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Europe's young Jews deplore rise in anti-Semitism

Nicole Goebel
July 4, 2019

Young Jewish Europeans believe anti-Semitism is on the rise in their countries. An EU report shows young Jews are concerned about safety and blame social media networks for a rise in anti-Jewish sentiment.

Two young women draped in Israeli flags in Auschwitz
Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/A. Keplicz

More than 80% of European Jews aged 16 to 34 strongly identify with being Jewish, and an equally high number of respondents believe anti-Semitism is a growing problem in their countries.

According to the "Young Jews in Contemporary Europe" report by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Human Rights (FRA), close to 90% of those surveyed think that anti-Jewish sentiment has risen on social media channels and the internet in general in the last five years.

The report comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany, with the country's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, cautioning Jews against wearing the yarmulke — or kippah — in public.

Other key findings

  • Young Jews are "considerably more likely" to experience anti-Jewish harassment than their elders.
  • 44% experienced at least one incident of harassment in the 12 months before the survey.
  • 73% of respondents say that they have not worn anything that may identify them as Jewish on at least one occasion due to safety concerns.
  • 41% have considered emigrating from their country because of safety concerns, mostly to Israel.
  • Holocaust denial or trivialization, suggesting "nefarious uses of power by Jews" or that Jews themselves are to blame for anti-Semitism top the list of anti-Jewish "tropes."
  • 52% said they are being blamed for anything done by the Israeli government "frequently" or "all the time."
  • 31% of those harassed identified the perpetrator as "someone with a Muslim extremist view."
  • "Violent physical anti-Semitism" was most likely to be attributed to Muslim extremists.
  • 21% of harassment was attributed to "someone with a left-wing view," closely followed by "someone with a right-wing view" at 14%.
  • Young Jews are "noticeably more likely" than their elders to identify intolerance towards Muslims in their countries as a problem.

Read more: Opinion: Is the only safe Jew in Germany an invisible one?

What the EU Commission says:

"Antisemitism is a threat to our European values. This is why we made fighting it a priority and work closely with member states to ensure they are fully part of our union," EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement.

FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty called anti-Semitism a "stubborn stain that refuses to go away."

"We owe it to all Jews, and particularly future generations, to erase this blot once and for all through coordinated action at the EU and national level," he said in a statement.

Sample size: The survey polled some 2,700 Jews aged 16 to 34 in 12 EU member states where more than 96% of the bloc's Jewish population live.

Sign of solidarity with Jews