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38% of European Jews have considered emigrating due to recent anti-Semitism, E.U. reports

Jewish people living in nearly all European countries report that anti-Semitism has grown in recent years.

Photo credit: BERND SETTNIK / AFP / Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • The survey is based on responses from 16,395 Jewish people living in 12 European countries.
  • 1 in 4 reported having experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past 12 months.
  • E.U. officials urged governments to do more to combat anti-Semitism, including the promotion of Holocaust education.

About 38 percent of European Jews have considered emigrating from Europe over the past five years due to a “surge” of anti-Semitism, according to a new survey.

The poll was conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and includes responses from 16,395 Jewish people living in 12 European countries. On average, 9 out of 10 respondents said anti-Semitism has been on the rise over the past five years in their home countries, with respondents in France, Belgium, Germany and Poland feeling the sharpest increases.

The survey also showed:

  • Twenty-eight percent of Jews had experienced anti-Semitic harassment at least once during the past 12 months.
  • Thirty-four percent of respondents avoid visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe as Jews when there or on their way there.
  • Eighty-five percent of respondents considered anti-Semitism to be the biggest social and political problem, with 95 percent reporting the same answer in France.
  • In France, nearly 90 percent of Jews said they had faced expressions of hostility on the street.
  • In the U.K., 75 percent of Jews said anti-Semitism was a very big or fairly big problem, up from 48% in 2012, with 29 percent having considered emigrating.
  • In Belgium, 84 percent of Jews reported having experienced anti-Semitism in their national media.

Interestingly, the pollsters recorded the most frequently mentioned perpetrators of anti-Semitic harassment, finding that “someone they did not know [accounted for] 31 percent; someone with an extremist Muslim view (30%); someone with a left-wing political view (21 percent); a colleague from work or school/college (16 percent); an acquaintance or friend (15 percent); and someone with a right-wing political view (13 percent).”

“It is impossible to put a number on how corrosive such everyday realities can be, but a shocking statistic sends a clear message … more than one-third say that they consider emigrating because they no longer feel safe as Jews,” FRA’S director Michael O’Flaherty said in a foreword to the study.

E.U. officials urged governments to do more to combat anti-Semitism as they presented the report in Brussels on Monday.

“What we need now is concrete action in the member states to see real change for Jews on the ground,” European Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans told reporters. “There is no Europe, if Jews don’t feel safe in Europe.”

European Jews in their own words

The report also includes some quotes from respondents that convey varying viewpoints on the nature and seriousness of modern anti-Semitism, highlighting the complexities of what’s often called “the world’s oldest hatred.”

“Antisemitic thoughts that slowly enter everyday ‘acceptable’ thinking is the biggest danger for me. There will always be someone who will let it go further and when it becomes too crude or hard to ignore, it’ll be too late.” (Man, 55–59 years old, Belgium)

“I believe that the fear of antisemitism is greater than the reality.” (Man, 40–44 years old, the United Kingdom)

“I feel very safe in the UK. I have been living outside of London as well but it was never a problem to be openly Jewish.” (Woman, 40–44 years old, the United Kingdom)

“My largest concern are the ‘alternative’ media like YouTube-channels, Twitter, Facebook or social media groups: racist and antisemitic insults are stated (apparently anonymously) and crude, insane, often antisemitic conspiracy theories are spread.” (Woman, 45–49 years old, Germany)

“Some forms of antisemitism (especially in social media) have become so commonplace that they are almost accepted. These are the sort of things that you can’t report to the police or even to the media platform, but strengthen a hostile culture. For example, references to Jewish bankers, Rothschild cults, etc etc.” (Man, 40–44 years old, the United Kingdom)

“Manifestations of antisemitism include jokes about Jews, the Holocaust, Hitler, etc., which are still strongly present in Poland in some circles, including among people with higher education. In addition, much is said about the influence of Jews on political decisions not in Poland but in the US, which is simply a way of saying that Jews rule the world because of the position of the US in international relations.” (Woman, 25–29 years old, Poland)

“I am very scared about my children’s future, since ‘Jew’ is an invective in my district, and people hate Jews so much that life means nothing. We are scared that our children will be attacked one way or another.” (Man, 45–49 years old, Denmark)

“I noticed that my Jewish people from my generation (including myself) experience a strong increase in the sensation of insecurity and not being welcome/accepted as a Jew in the Netherlands.” (Woman, 30–34 years old, the Netherlands)


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