Tuesday, July 16, 2024

‘Wave of antisemitism’ in EU influenced by Israel-Gaza war – survey – BBC News

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Image caption, More than half of the Jewish people surveyed expressed concern for their own safety or that of their family

Jewish people in the EU continue to face high levels of antisemitism, according to the latest survey from the bloc’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

More than 8,000 Jews in 13 EU countries, including Germany and France, were interviewed – with 96% saying they had encountered antisemitism in their daily life.

The vast majority had experienced harassment online.

The FRA’s director, Sirpa Rautio, warned that Europe was facing a “wave of antisemitism” – driven partly by the conflict in the Middle East.

She warned that this was severely limiting the ability of Jewish people in EU countries to “live in safety and with dignity”.

The survey, which looked at participants’ experiences in the year before it was carried out, took place in the first half of 2023 – before the 7 October Hamas attacks and Israel’s resulting military campaign in Gaza.

However, the FRA said there had been a dramatic rise in reported antisemitic attacks since the Gaza war began.

It was sparked when gunmen from Hamas and other Palestinian groups attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 251 others hostage on 7 October last year.

Israel’s retaliatory attacks have since killed 38,295 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

The FRA said its research over the years had found that antisemitism tends to increase in times of tension in the Middle East.

It added that 75% of those who took part in their latest survey felt that they were held responsible for the Israeli government’s actions because they are Jewish.

While 90% of respondents said they had encountered antisemitism on the internet, the FRA said “antisemitic harassment and violence mostly take place in streets, parks, or shops”.

More than half of those surveyed expressed concern for their own safety or that of their family, while 76% said they hid their Jewish identity at least occasionally,

The organisation also collected responses from 12 Jewish organisations in January and February this year and found a dramatic increase in the number of reported antisemitic attacks across all surveyed countries. These attacks included personal harassment, intimidation and violence.

In Austria and Sweden, antisemitic incidents had increased by more than 400% in October to December last year compared to the same period in 2022.

In 2022, Denmark had reported only nine antisemitic incidents, but this increased to 121 last year.

The FRA warned that the safety concerns and the protection of Jewish people and institutions had become urgent.

It has called on governments to do more to fund the security needs of Jewish communities such as at schools and synagogues.

“We need to build on existing laws and strategies to protect communities from all forms of hate and intolerance, online as well as offline,” Ms Rautio said.

The FRA also called on governments to use the EU’s Digital Services Act to remove antisemitic content online, and step up efforts to prosecute antisemitic hate crimes.

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