EU Report Sees Anti-Semitism on Rise

Attacks on Jews have increased in several European Union states, especially in France, with the main perpetrators young, white males, an EU report said on Wednesday. The report by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) contrasted with controversial findings of a Berlin study last year which blamed young Arabs and Muslims predominantly for rising anti-Semitism. “There has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in five EU countries,” the EUMC said, citing Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Britain and Germany. “Although it is not easy to generalize, the largest group of perpetrators … appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans.”

“A further source of anti-Semitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction. Traditionally anti-Semitic groups on the extreme right played a part in stirring opinion,” it said. By far the biggest rise in anti-Semitic violence was reported in France, where the number of incidents rose sixfold in 2002 over the previous year. Jewish organizations accused the European Commission of anti-Semitism after the EUMC, an independent EU agency, at first refused to issue the Berlin study amid accusations it was loath to single out Muslim immigrants and pro-Palestinian groups.

Growing violence
The Commission and the Jewish groups later resolved their differences and held a joint conference in January on fighting anti-Semitism. The EUMC also released the Berlin researchers’ report, although with a disclaimer. The new report, based on research by EUMC units in member states on anti-Semitic incidents for the years 2002 and 2003, recorded in France 313 racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic incidents in 2002, of which 193 were directed at the Jewish community – six times more than in 2001. The number of incidents in Belgium doubled, including the fire-bombing of Jewish property and serious physical assaults. In Germany, the number of anti-Semitic acts fell in 2002, but those involving violence rose from 18 in 2001 to 28 in 2002.

In Sweden, anti-Semitic crimes remained at constant levels over the last few years. Several countries, including Ireland and Portugal, had few incidents. Acts of anti-Semitism were rare in Greece, Austria, Italy and Spain, but the EUMC said anti-Semitic discourse in these countries was “particularly virulent” in daily life. Although the EUMC said its findings had identified two broad groups behind anti-Semitic acts, it said it was difficult to generalize too much as the data were patchy.