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Europe

EU Rights Agency Says Anti-Semitism Tied to Mideast Peace

Anti-Semitic trends are linked to the situation in the Middle East, as well as to the finance crisis, reports the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. But some countries don't properly track the crimes, warns the agency.

A view of the top of a man's head sitting in a Berlin synagogue

Data is insufficient for an EU-wide comparison of anti-Semitic activity

In a report released Monday, March 2, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the European Union declined in 2007 and 2008, but has been on the rise since December 2008.

"There are indications that this rise could partly be affected by the situation in the Middle East, as well as by the global financial crisis," FRA director Morten Kjaerum said in a statement.

"Political and community leaders across the EU have an obligation to make it clear that intolerance and aggression in any form are completely unacceptable," continued Kjaerum.

Since hostilities broke out in the Gaza Strip in late December, attacks on synagogues and sporadic violence have been reported either by the media or official sources in France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and the UK, according to the agency's paper.

The report also noted a peak in anti-Semitic activity, particularly in the UK and France, during the Lebanon war in 2006.

Data collected differently in EU states

However, the Vienna-based agency warned that not enough official data is available from across the European Union to reliably deduce bloc-wide trends for the test period 2001-2008 and to compare EU member countries to each other.

FRA also warned that the way individual countries collect data could have an impact on how the results are viewed. Those countries, like France, which carefully document crimes as anti-Semitic, naturally report the highest rates of anti-Semitic activity. Other EU member states, such as Denmark, do not distinguish between anti-Semitic and other types of incidents.

"High figures in a member state do indicate that a serious problem exists, they also indicate that this member state is taking the problem seriously," concluded the paper.

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