EU: Half of the population perceives antisemitism as a problem
The most recent Eurobarometer survey has found half of the citizens in the European Union perceive antisemitism as a problem in their own countries. This is a significant contrast to a December survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), according to which 85 % of Europe's Jewish residents consider antisemitism to be the biggest political and social problem of all in their home countries.
In the Czech Republic, Eurobarometer found 28 % of respondents see antisemitism as a problem there. EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová, speaking at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 23 January, warned that the less educated people are, the less aware they are of the tragic fate of six million European Jews during the Second World War.
The fact that a growth in antisemitism is currently being felt by 90 % of the EU's Jewish population is, according to Jourová, "Europe's shame". The Commissioner reminded her audience that according to the FRA findings, four out of 10 Jewish people in the EU are considering leaving Europe altogether.
"Whenever Jews have left Europe in the past it has never been a good sign of their status. The rest of the European Commission and I are determined to ensure the future of the Jewish people on this continent, both for their sake and for that of Europe," the Commissioner said.
Hatred towards all that is Jewish in modern Europe, according to the Commissioner, exists for different reasons in different places. In the east of the EU, old antisemitic conspiracy theories are being revived, while in the west, antisemitism can be heard more not just from the ultra-right, but also from some parts of Muslim communities.
"Basically, the Middle East conflict is appearing before our eyes on European territory," the Commissioner noted. Different stakeholders, according to her, are asking that different approaches be taken to address this issue.
Eurobarometer found antisemitism is considered a problem mainly by people in Sweden (81 %), France (72 %), Germany (66 %), the Netherlands (65 %), Britain (62 %) and Italy (58 %). In Austria and Belgium, respondents were divided approximately 50-50 on the question.
The presentation of the Eurobarometer findings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 23 January happened to fall on the same day as the continuation of the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche, a French citizen of Algerian origin who shot dead four people in 2014 in the museum's entry hall. Nemmouche is still refusing to accept responsibility for his actions.
In the Czech Republic, according to Eurobarometer, just 28 % of respondents believe antisemitism is a problem. Those most frequently responding to that effect were between 40 and 54 years of age (33 %).
According to 57 % of Czech respondents, the situation with respect to antisemitism has not changed in the country during the last five years. EU-wide an average of 39 % believe antisemitism is a problem, with 36 % saying it has increased in the EU over the last five years.
When asked to reflect on the EU as a whole, the most frequently-perceived display of antisemitism is Holocaust denial, which was mentioned by 53 % of respondents. Again, that is a significantly lower proportion of respondents than when just European Jews are asked the question, according to the FRA.
Among the European Jews surveyed, 83 % perceived a statement like "the Holocaust is a myth that is being exaggerated" to be unequivocally antisemitic. In the Czech Republic 38 % of respondents told Eurobarometer that Holocaust denial is a problem there.
The other most frequently-mentioned problem is the dissemination of antisemitism through the Internet and online social networks, with 51 % of respondents warning of this on average throughout the EU. The same percentage mentioned anti-Jewish graffiti and vandalism against Jewish buildings, public threats against Jewish people, and the damaging of Jewish cemeteries.
Cemetery vandalism was mentioned by 44 % of Czech respondents as a problem in the Czech Republic. A full 68 % of Europeans believe people in their countries do not have enough information about the customs, history, and life ways of local Jewish minorities.
According to 43 % of Eurobarometer respondents, enough is being taught about the Holocaust in schools, but 42 % believe the opposite. In the Czech Republic, 40 % of respondents are convinced enough instruction is taking place in that regard, with 46 % of respondents believing the opposite.
The Eurobarometer data on antisemitism were published in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which since 2005 has marked the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Red Army of the USSR on 27 January 1945. The authors of the Eurobarometer survey contacted 27 643 people in the EU-28.
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