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Anti-Semitism returns to haunt Europe

By James Skinner | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-12-07 11:12

Anti-Semitism returns to haunt Europe

Participants take part in the March of Life event at the Former Nazi Death Camp Majdanek in Lublin Aug 22, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

An old problem is returning to Europe.

Hardening attitudes toward the continent’s Jews have seen a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in countries across the continent including Britain, France, and Germany. Incidents have ranged from abusive social media posts, to serious violence, even murder.

Recent statistics are shocking. In 2014, Britain’s Community Security Trust (CST), which is responsible for monitoring the security of Jews in the country, recorded a total of 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents against the country’s small Jewish population of 291,000. In Germany, 1,596 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded for the same year.

However, it is France where Europe’s oldest prejudice has returned most dramatically. Recorded incidents hit 851 during 2015, double the number recorded in 2014, although it is thought many incidents go unreported. There have also been high-profile terror attacks against Jews, such as the Porte de Vincennes siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris last year.

While many in Europe’s Jewish communities have long voiced concerns about their safety, it seems only recent events have brought the issue to wider public attention.

So, what is driving this rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents? Two things seem certain.

First, anti-Semitic incidents generally spike when there is any kind of military action being undertaken by Israel. For example, Jews in the UK appear to have borne the brunt of the public’s anger over Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza during 2009, with a record number of incidents recorded by the CST that year.

While many groups that campaign against Israeli foreign policy claim that they are not campaigning against Jews, just the Israeli state, it is a fact that many public protests have attracted individuals and groups with hardline anti-Semitic attitudes.

Second, Europe’s increasing Muslim population is having a big impact on the safety of Jews. Many of Europe’s Jewish communities live in the biggest population centers such as London and Paris, and typically Europe’s large cities also have big Muslim populations. Evidence suggests that many Jews are being singled out for abuse, intimidation and violence by young Muslim men, especially those with radical Islamist beliefs.

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