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June 11, 2014 5:58 pm

Economist Says European Jews Overreacting to Anti-Semitism

avatar by Adam Levick

Police vehicle in France. Photo: Wiki Commons.

In fairness, a characteristically anonymous article in the June 7th print edition of the Economist, titled ‘Of guns and ballot boxes‘ about European anti-Semitism does partly acknowledge the seriousness of the problem – exemplified most dramatically by the recent jihadist shooting attack in Brussels (and the 2012 attack in Toulouse), as well as the success of some extreme-right parties in the EU elections.

However, it doesn’t take long for the author to descend into PC-inspired obfuscations.

The Economist writes:

There was a time when the new Europe opening after the fall of the Berlin Wall seemed to augur a golden age for European Jewry. Jewish life was restored where it had been extinguished, and the expanding borders of a post-national Europe offered new opportunities to Jews scattered across borders. Plainly, nationalism is reasserting itself. And lingering anti-Semitism of the old, Christian-based sort is now mixed with radical Islamism among disenchanted Muslims.

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However, a survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), cited by the Economist elsewhere in the article, contradicts the claim that “Christian-based” anti-Semitism “is now “mixed” with anti-Semitism by “disenchanted Muslims.” Here’s a breakdown of the relevant data from the FRA on the perpetrators of anti-Semitic harassment:

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by FRA respondents: Across Europe, 27% of perpetrators were perceived as someone with “Muslim extremist views”; 22% were perceived as “left-wing political views”; and 19% as “right-wing views”, and 7% as ‘someone with an extremist Christian view’.

Note that, contrary to the Economist claim, not only did very few victims of anti-Semitic harassment characterize the perpetrator as “Christian” (7%), but nearly 50% described their perpetrator as either a Muslim extremist or someone with “left-wing political views.”   Indeed, as should be obvious to commentators who take modern anti-Semitism seriously, while the extreme right continues to present a serious problem, the newly resurgent European anti-Semitism is increasingly a leftist and Islamist phenomenon.

In addition to such rhetorical slights of hand, later in the article, the Economist author begins lecturing Jews on the alleged folly of taking too seriously warnings that “Europe is no longer safe for Jews.”

Whilst the Economist putatively acknowledges Jewish fears in this passage:

A survey last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency showed that nearly a third of Jews had considered leaving in the previous five years because they did not feel safe. Three-quarters felt that anti-Semitism was worsening, with the situation in Hungary and France especially bad.

They then reach the following conclusion:

Yet, worrying as such changes are, they may not be a signal for Jews to pack up and leave. To state the obvious, anti-Semitism in Europe is not sponsored by governments, and there are no organised pogroms or Nuremberg laws. Berlin boasts the world’s fastest-growing Jewish community. Jews are free to stay or leave. Moving to Israel may fulfill a religious, cultural or political need for many Jews, but it is not safer than staying in Europe.

So, the Economist seems to be telling the large number of Jews (up to one-third of the total Jewish population) who have considered leaving Europe – and moving to Israel because they don’t feel safe – that their fears are irrational. In addition to the hubris of such a suggestion, additional data from the FRA survey paints a very clear picture of why Jews would feel freer and safer in Israel.

  • One third (33%) of Jews in the EU worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. The U.K. has the lowest levels of fear, with 28% worrying about verbal abuse and 17% worrying about physical attack. The highest is France, at 70% and 60% respectively.
  • Across Europe, 27% of Jews in the EU at least occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish. Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%), and France (35%) are the worst places for this.

And, most disturbingly:

  • 68% of Jews in the EU at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish. The figure for the U.K. is 59%; the highest figures were in Sweden (79%) and France (75%).

Though there are of course a small number of anti-Jewish incidents in Israel perpetrated by a minuscule number of Israeli Arabs, all Jews living in Israel (and those European Jews considering emigrating there) are secure in the knowledge that the government will use the power of the state – a nation whose very raison d’être is to serve as a Guardian of the Jews – to fiercely protect their freedom.

One needn’t resort to unserious hyperbole about the “return to the 1930’s” to take Jewish fears seriously, and be gravely concerned that – 70 years after the Holocaust – a disturbingly high percentage of what’s left of European Jewry once again feel themselves under the yoke of the continent’s oldest hatred.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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