Published on 10 December 2018

Antisemitism - World Jewish Congress responds to EU findings on rise of antisemitism

“Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon political leaders to set the tone of what is acceptable discourse in Europe,” said Ron Lauder.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released Monday its second comprehensive report on discrimination and hate crimes against Jews in the EU, finding that an overwhelming majority of the 16,500 self-identified Jewish respondents feel that antisemitism is getting worse. This was the largest survey of Jewish people ever conducted worldwide, covering 12 EU member states, which are home to over 96 percent of Europe’s Jewish population; it follows the first survey of its kind in 2012, which covered 7 states.

The 2018 survey found that nine in 10 (89%) respondents feel that antisemitism had increased in their country over the previous five years, and more than eight in 10 (85%) consider it to be a serious problem. The prevailing forum for antisemitic activities, according to respondents, is on the internet and social media (89%), followed by public spaces (73%), media (71%), and political life (70%). Additionally, 40% said they worried about an antisemitic physical attack, and 70% believe that the government in their country does not combat antisemitism effectively. The 2018 report also found that 79% of those who experienced antisemitic harassment in the five years prior to the survey did not report the most serious incident to police, indicating an even darker reality than the official national crime numbers. More than one-third of all respondents said they had considered emigrating in the five years preceding the survey because they did not feel safe as Jews in the country where they live.

Responding to the findings, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said: 

“On behalf of the more than 100 Jewish communities affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, both in Europe and across the globe, I wish to thank the FRA for producing this comprehensive and detailed report, and for its strong expression of encouragement to policymakers across the EU to take heed of the troubling findings,” Lauder said.
“The results of this unprecedented survey are shocking, but sadly unsurprising,” Lauder said. “How can one be surprised by these results, when in Chemnitz, Germany, anti-Semites practicing the Nazi salute were allowed to march while the police stood idly by; when in France, Marine La Pen, whose father was a virulent antisemite was almost elected president; when in Austria and Hungary, the FPO and Jobbik, both of which were originally founded by neo-Nazis, are now the second largest parties and members of the governing coalition; and when in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour party." 
“What is going to stop the rampant spread of anti-Semitism in Europe is not just physical security enhancements, but education. The 2018 FRA report highlights the need for every student around the globe to learn about the Holocaust and the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews across Europe. Fewer and fewer students know about the Holocaust, and this is a trend which must stop now. Governments in Europe must also work on developing long-term solutions to combat the rise of antisemitism across the continent,” Lauder said.
"The Council of the European Union took an important step forward last week, when it adopted a first-of-its kind declaration to this regard, but the path ahead is long and arduous," Lauder added, referring to the declaration agreed upon on December 6 by 28 EU member states on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to protect Jewish communities. The WJC worked closely for many months with the Austrian government authorities and the European institutions, in coordination with the Austrian Jewish Community and the European Jewish Congress, in developing that declaration’s content. 
“Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon political leaders to set the tone of what is acceptable discourse in Europe,” Lauder added. “Leaders of parties with antisemitic members must expel them immediately without delay. Heads of state must show true and moral leadership in not only speaking out against antisemitism, but with action to root out antisemitism wherever it may rear its ugly head. Moreover, we urge all members of the European Union to adopt the working definition of antisemitism as agreed to by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, to ensure that this universal problem is treated in a universal manner, with a universal solution.”
“I wish to extend my deep appreciation to the European Parliament for its efforts to combat antisemitism in recent years, and give my personal thanks to European Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová for her all of her efforts in fighting discrimination and antisemitism, and her continued commitment to protecting the rights of the Jewish citizens in Europe,” Lauder said. “Unfortunately, this report only confirms what every Jew across Europe knows – that antisemitism is on the rise and that their political leaders are not doing enough to stop this hatred. I hope political leaders across Europe are woken up by this report and that they heed my call to educate every student about the Holocaust, as education is the only way to stop the hate.”

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