Europe’s Jews continue to live in fear of verbal or physical abuse in public and on the internet, according to the findings a new survey conducted by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights.
The Vienna-based agency’s report, titled “Discrimination and Hate Crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” is based on a survey of 5,847 self-selected individuals who identified as Jewish in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom – countries in which 90% of European Jews reside.
According to the findings, which were presented last week, two-thirds of respondents (66%) said anti-Semitism is a problem in Europe, and 76% reported an increase in anti-Semitic hostility in their home countries over the last five years.
Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they are afraid of being verbally attacked or harassed in a public place, while 33% said they worry such attacks could turn physical. About a quarter (26%) said they had experienced anti-Semitic harassment and 23% said they had been discriminated against for being Jewish.
Roughly 75% of all respondents in the eight countries said the Internet is “the most common forum for negative statements”.
Meanwhile, half of the parents and grandparents said even school-age children could be victims of bullying if they wear Jewish symbols like a Star of David necklace. Worrying also is the finding that more than half (57%) of those surveyed said they had heard or seen someone deny the Holocaust in the last year.
As regards the Jews living in Germany, 63% of those polled said they avoid wearing, carrying or displaying anything that might suggest they are Jews. A quarter of those living in Germany said they have considered emigrating in the last five years because they did not feel safe.
Anti-Semitism was cited as the biggest problem by Jews in Germany. Those in other countries said unemployment was the greatest problem they face.
The study also found that respondents claimed that they had been increasingly exposed to negative statements about Jews online, including on blogs and social-networking sites. Three-quarters (75%) of all respondents in the eight countries identified the Internet as “the most common forum for negative statements” and a place where such statements could be made with virtual impunity.