EU Report: Lack of Cohesive Policy Leading to ‘Gross’ Underreporting of Antisemitism in Europe
A lack of cohesive policy among EU member states for registering antisemitic attacks has led to vast “underreporting” of antisemitism across the European continent, an October 2015 report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed on Wednesday.
According to the country-by-country report, “evidence collected by FRA consistently shows that few EU Member States operate official data collection mechanisms that record antisemitic incidents in any great detail.” Indeed, no official data was even presented in seven EU member states: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta and Portugal.
This lack of official or Europe-wide mechanisms has led to “gross underreporting of the nature and characteristics of antisemitic incidents that occur in the EU,” the report concludes.
This could be particularly troubling in a country like Hungary, where an openly antisemitic political party, Jobbik, became the country’s third largest following elections in 2014, or in Lithuania, where government plans to construct a convention center atop Jewish graves sparked an outcry among Jewish groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The report defined antisemitism as being “expressed in the form of verbal and physical attacks, threats, harassment, property damage, graffiti or other forms of text, including on the internet,” and collected data from official and unofficial sources.
Germany reported the highest number of incidents, at 1,596 events in 2014 including 45 violent assaults. Numbers were also high in France, at 851 events, and the United Kingdom, at 318, though this was far below the 2009 level of 703 incidents.
But these countries also boast the largest Jewish populations in Europe and, given the “gross underreporting” in others, the conclusions that can be drawn are unclear. Hungary, with the next largest Jewish population, had no official data to collect at all.
The report came after a troubling year for Europe’s Jews, with spikes in antisemitism around the 2014 Gaza War in Israel, as well as serious violent incidents in Belgium, France and Denmark that resulted in several deaths. Additionally, France has seen a rise in emigration among Jews, with many opting to move to Israel.