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Apr 18, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Did you know? Anti-Semitism climbing in some parts of Europe, falling in Hungary

Countering the trend in many western European countries, where the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes is rising, the number of incidents dropped in Hungary in 2018.

That comes as a surprise to some. For those who have watched the issue more closely, not so much.

Over the last six years, the Action and Protection Foundation (APF), a Hungarian civic group founded in 2012 by the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, has monitored and analyzed anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes.

In 2018, APF recorded a total of 32 anti-Semitic hate crimes in Hungary, including three physical assaults,  ten cases of abuse, and 19 cases of hate speech. Compared to previous years – 37, in 2014; 52, in 2015; 48, in 2016; and 37, in 2017 – this number is showing a decline.

But while it’s declining in Hungary, it’s sadly growing in many other European countries. Among the two largest European countries with Jewish communities, 1,625 crimes related to anti-Semitism were recorded in Britain and 541 in France. These 2018 numbers have increased dramatically compared to the previous year’s figures.

The per capita numbers are most revealing. Britain saw 25 anti-Semitic incidents per one million inhabitants and France had 8.1 incients per one million inhabitants. In Hungary, that number is 3.4.

And it’s not only APF pointing to disturbing trends. Data from German police indicate that incidents of anti-Semitism reached a ten-year high in the country last year, a disturbing increase of 10 percent over the previous year. Some 1,646 hate crimes were reported there in 2018, sixty-two of these acts were violent, wounding 43 people.

The largest-ever survey measuring Jewish outlook on anti-Semitism in Europe, a poll of more than 16,000 Jewish respondents in 12 European countries, found that among the Jewish community anti-Semitic hate speech, harassment and an increasing fear of being recognized as Jewish are becoming the new normal.

This is a sad and distressing subject, and there’s something terribly clinical about calling attention to the fact that 3.4 hate crimes per million is much smaller than 25 per million. But hardly a week goes by without reading some pundit or international correspondent decrying Hungary for rising anti-Semitism even when it doesn’t square with the facts and ignoring that the Orbán Governments have done more than any other since 1990 to combat anti-Semitism.

Yes, the rise of anti-Semitism is a problem in Europe but the picture is much more complicated than what you would read in those criticisms of Hungary.