Europe is not antisemitic, but there is antisemitism in Europe

July 1, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Anti-Semitism in many parts of Europe is on the rise not because of government policies, but rather due to pervasive sentiments among various sections of the public, the most senior Jewish community professionals from France, Germany, and Hungary said this week at the World Jewish Congress’ 5th annual National Community Directors’ Forum.

Central Council of the Jews of Germany Managing Director Daniel Botmann Photo: Shahar Azran

Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, the umbrella organisation representing French Jewry, pointed to the strong support extended by the government to the Jewish community, juxtaposed with an undeniable in antisemitic speech and attacks: “Is France an antisemitic country? The answer is a clear no. Is there antisemitism in France? The answer is a clear yes,” he said.

“President [Emmanuel] Macron declared that anti-Zionism is a reinvented form of antisemitism. [Former Presidents] Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy also made strong statements. We have the strongest legal system for fighting antisemitism and Shoah denial. Are the laws always effectively applied? That’s a good question. In past 20 years, 12 people were killed in France for being Jewish. Anti-Semitic attacks represent 50% of racist/hate crimes in the country,” he said. “We have a growing non-democratic community voting at extremes – we are not just attacked for being Jews but for the values which we represent. We’re very worried about the forces that fight against democracy,” Ejnes said.

Managing director of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Daniel Botmann, pointed to the rise of the far-right and the BDS movement as main sources in the growth of antisemitism. This, and the surprising ignorance among the public regarding the Holocaust, come amidst great strides being made by the German government to curb antisemitism, Botmann said. “More than 40% of German youth don’t know what Auschwitz is. It’s a sobering situation. Having a good relationship with the government isn’t enough—we must work with grassroots activists, in schools, and with young people to bring Jews and non-Jews together in dialogue. We need strong partnerships with civil society, because antisemitism isn’t just a Jewish problem. Anti-Semites are anti-democratic, which threatens all of society, not just the Jews.”

Peter Kunos, Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, noted that recent surveys have found that an overwhelming “20% of the population share strong antisemitic feelings: 2 million people”, but said that the government takes every occasion to declare to “ensure that its Jewish population can live safely in Hungary”. Kunos added that the government provides support to renovate more great synagogues and abandoned Jewish cemeteries.

The Federation has disagreements with the government and institution policies close to the government concerning issues of commemoration policy, protesting against the erection of statues of antisemitic figures, and those who wants to whitewash the role of Hungarian authorities during the Holocaust.

“There is antisemitism in Hungary and what we are curious about is whether it will turn into conflicts. This has not yet happened, but according to our historical experiences we think that it could happen locally if the existential and economic situation of Hungarian people would turn much worst,” said Kunos. “The Hungarian Government is definitely not antisemitic and is pro-Israel within the EU.”

The three European leaders spoke on a panel on Monday, as part of a delegation of national directors from more than 50 Jewish communities worldwide affiliated with the WJC gathered in Israel for the forum.


4 Responses to “Europe is not antisemitic, but there is antisemitism in Europe”
  1. boudot emmanuel says:

    Talking about antisemitism in Europe and especialy in France without naming islamic jihadism like the main cause, is not serious ; more than 90% of antisemitic acts come from the muslim community in France ( like everywhere in western Europe) far-rights antisemitism is the main issue in eastern Europe only. 16 jews have been killed because they were jews ,in france since 2000 ,and all their murders were jihadists , the real forces that fight againt democracy.
    Whatever is the european antisemitism problem in the past , it is irrelevant to focus on it to understand the problems from today.

  2. michael kuttner says:

    It is true that currently there is no Government in Europe which openly espouses Jew hatred. However to claim that Europe is not anti Semitic is really pulling the wool over one’s eyes. Europe, west and east, including the Baltic countries, is soaked in hatred of Jews and this is now manifesting itself throughout the continent. There is no long term future for Jews there and the sooner Jewish leaders take their heads out of the sand and face stark realties the better it will be for those Jews who still believe that Europe can be a safe haven.

    Pre war Jewish leaders also hallucinated that everything was great and by the time they woke up it was too late. Why are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes?

  3. Paul Winter says:

    When I was in Budapest in May 2017, a rabbi was interviewed on TV and stated that a third of Hungarians hated Jews. What a relief – a 13% improvement!

  4. Eion Isaac says:

    AntiJudaism is among Islamic Extremists the Fascist Right and parts of the UltraLeft and often with malignant personality traits the capacity in humans to vent hatred and destruction.
    Education can help the ones not committed but Jewish Self Reliance and Healthy Societies with human rights and socioeconomic well being are the better protectors .

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