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May 06, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Western Europe’s anti-Semitism problem

Last month, I wrote about the research of the Action and Protection Foundation (APF), a Hungarian civic group founded in 2012 by the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, specifically the group’s monitoring and analysis of 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.

Incidents of anti-Semitism are declining in Hungary, but the same cannot be said for western Europe, according to APF’s findings.

Numbers from several other sources show the same troubling trend. The Eurobarometer survey from January shows that half of Europeans believe that anti-Semitism is a problem in their country, including 15 percent who believe it is a “very important problem”. The numbers in Sweden (81 percent), France (72 percent) and Germany (65 percent) are the worst.

The German government recently released a report revealing a sharp, 10 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic offences in 2018. Data in the European Jewish Congress’s report show reports of anti-Semitic violence acts rose by 74 percent in France and 70 percent in Germany. The report claims that the situation is particularly bad in western European countries and that anti-Semitism has even reached a level that it calls into question the future of Jewish life in Europe.

I take no pleasure in conveying these numbers, but I’d like to make the point clear:

We read repeatedly in the mainstream, western media about the problem of anti-Semitism in Hungary. You know, because Orbán. But the fact is, according to many sources, anti-Semitism is on the decline in Hungary but seeing dramatic and troubling increases in western Europe.

It would be useful to have a frank and open debate about why that’s the case.