anti-Semitism EuropeECI: Europe needs a coherent and positive attitude towards the Jewish people and the Jewish state to fight anti-Semitism

Brussels, December 11th, 2018 – A new survey, conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), has found an increasing level of anti-Semitism in Europe over the past five years. In the survey, which was released in Brussels on Monday, 28% of those interviewed said that they had experienced harassment because of their Jewish identity, but 79% of them did not report it to the authorities because they did not believe it would be of any help. 38% of the Jews who took part in the survey said that they were considering leaving Europe as they no longer felt safe in their home countries.

The results do not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the situation over the last five years, but are nevertheless depressing. While cities like Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen are today directly associated with terrorist attacks against Jews, according to the survey, anti-Semitism has become an everyday problem for Jews in our cities and many no longer dare to wear traditional religious symbols or attend Jewish events concerned for their security and even in fear for their lives.

In a statement on Monday, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell called upon the European Union to formulate a comprehensive strategy to combat the rise of anti-Semitism directed not only towards Jewish people but also towards the only Jewish state in the world. “If we separate the State of Israel from European Jewry we will fail to address the core problem”, he said.

“The widespread animosity from national governments against the Jews as a nation, the State of Israel, quickly translates into hostility towards individual Jews in ways that the results of the survey reveal.”

The most common anti-Semitic slogan recorded in the survey is that “Israel behaves like Nazis towards Palestinians” (51%).

“If our governments accept and tolerate a UN member state such as the Islamic Republic of Iran which is openly calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, then we are tolerating anti-Semitism at the highest level. If our governments, in addition to that, consistently vote for UN resolutions which expressly deny Jewish history and the right of the Jewish people to self determination, we cannot expect our citizens to have a positive attitude towards the Jewish people as a whole”, Sandell said.

“We need to see Jews and the Jewish state not as ‘problems’ that need ‘solutions’, but instead learn to appreciate the Jewish people, their culture and their state as well as their contributions to our societies and civilization. Only when we have a holistic and positive view on Jewish culture as a whole can we expect our citizens to make a change in their negative attitudes and stereotypes.

The fundamental problem in the West today is that we have lost our own sense of history and identity. When we fail to acknowledge our Judeo-Christian roots, we also lose a true understanding of who the Jewish people are. Instead of seeing them as an integral part of our history and culture, we see them as aliens, who have no place in our society. In Nazi Germany the Holocaust was preceded by a ‘de-Judification’ of society, from religious beliefs to arts and culture. A similar move to purge society of Jewish history and influence can today be witnessed in many mainline churches, as well as in international governmental organisations who accept historical revisionism in order to deny the Jewish people their own history and identity.

The antidote to anti-Semitism is not simply the promotion of tolerance and protection for the Jewish people within our cities and societies but an open and sincere acceptance, recognition and celebration of Jewish culture in all its richness.”

The comments were made from New York where Sandell and ECI Director for UN Affairs, Dr Gregory Lafitte were attending a UN symposium marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Through the work of the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy ECI has for the last seven years been presenting Jewish culture and important Jewish contributions to the international community and the creation of the United Nations. At the UN symposium on Monday the important role of the Polish-Jewish international lawyer Raphael Lemkin in formulating the Universal Declaration was highlighted as well as his role in coining the word genocide and initiating the Genocide Convention.