Young Jews ‘feel generally unsafe in Europe,’ says EU watchdog group

44 percent of Jewish youths polled have experienced anti-Semitic harassment; 41% have considered emigration

People wear kippahs during a demonstration against anti-Semitism in Berlin, April 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People wear kippahs during a demonstration against anti-Semitism in Berlin, April 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The majority of young European Jews express a strong Jewish identity despite feeling unsafe due to rising anti-Semitism, a new study conducted by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has found.

The survey, which was based on interviews with more than 2,700 Jews between the ages of 16 and 34, collected in 2018, found that 81 percent of young Jewish Europeans “declared the strength of their Jewish identity to be high” while an identical percentage stated that they believed that “racism is a problem in their countries.”

Forty-four percent of those polled said that they had been victims of anti-Semitic harassment, while 85% reported “that people in their countries accuse or blame them for anything done by the Israeli government at least ‘occasionally.'”

Nearly half of respondents said that they did not believe they were receiving adequate protection from their governments and 45% stated that they “choose not to wear, carry or display distinguishable Jewish items in public because they are concerned about their safety.”

Earlier this year, the top German official in charge of fighting anti-Semitism stated that he could not “recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany,” sparking a backlash from Jewish groups around the world.

According to FRA, 41% of young Jews have considered emigration “because they did not feel safe living there as a Jewish person.”

“We need to act fast to combat antisemitism in Europe and join our efforts to keep our youth safe,” said EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová. “We want young Jewish people to grow up in Europe feeling they fully belong here. 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.”

FRA director Michael O’Flaherty sounded a similar note, calling 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 working hand-in-hand with Jewish communities,” he declared.

The agency’s previous report on anti-Semitism, released late last year, found that 90% of European Jews feel that anti-Semitism has increased in their home countries over the past five years.

Of the more than 16,000 Jews who participated in the online survey, 85% rated anti-Semitism the biggest social or political problem in the country where they live.

The report was released after a major poll for CNN found that one-fifth of Europeans believe Jewish people have too much influence in finance and politics, and a third said they knew nothing at all or “just a little” about the Holocaust.

The World Jewish Congress responded to the new report on Twitter, writing that it was “another wake-up call to fight #antisemitism at its roots, for the future of Jewish life in Europe.”

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