|Volume 1, Issue 2 (April 2007 / Iyar 5767)
Antisemitism in Twenty-First Century Europe
By Rita Simon and Jeffrey
is on the rise in selective countries of Western and Eastern
Europe. This article reports anti-Semitic incidents and attacks
that have occurred in France, Germany, the United Kingdom,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia
between 2000 and 2006.
Klug recently wrote, in an article in the Nation (February
1879, the German journalist, Wilhelm Marr, a former socialist
and anarchist, founded an organization that was novel in
two ways. It was the first political party based on a
platform of hostility to Jews. And it introduced the world
to a new word: "anti-Semite".
antisemitism is hatred of Jews and Judaism. Jews are the enemy. Anti-Jewish
beliefs are based on Jewish religion, hatred of Jews as an
ethnic group, and/or a race.
a piece by Natan P. F. Kellerman entitled "Unconditional Hate" presented
at the conference on "Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary World" held
in Melbourne, Australia in February 2005, the author offered
five reasons for the persistent hatred of Jews throughout history. Jews
are hated because
are the cause of all misfortunes;
possess too much wealth and power;
arrogantly claim supremacy over other people;
killed Jesus; and
deviate from the cultural norm and are thus inferior.
the media have included numerous articles on what they call
the "new anti-Semitism." Essentially, the "new" antisemitism
is anti-Israel. New antisemitism advocates and preaches hatred
not only against Jews but also against Israel. The extent
to which Israel is attacked because it is a Jewish state is
the new antisemitism. For the purposes of this article, we
have tried to separate criticisms of Israel that are based
on its politics from criticisms of Israel that view it as representative
of stereotypical Jews.
Gallup Poll conducted in October 2005, asked 7,515 citizens
from the 15 European Union (EU) member states, "Which countries
pose the greatest threat to world peace?" Results showed that
in the Netherlands, 74 %, in Austria 69%, and in Germany 65%
chose Israel. Only Italy broke with the trend with less than
half of the respondents saying Israel was a threat (48%). In
second place after Israel, were Iran, North Korea, and the
United States; 53 percent of the EU citizens deemed them a
the paragraphs that follow, we provide a country-by-country
account of antisemitic incidents and opinions from 2000 to
a population of 273,500, the United Kingdom has the fifth largest
Jewish community in the world. The Jewish population there,
however, has been dropping since 1970 due to low birth rates
and high intermarriage (fifty percent of men under thirty are
married to non-Jewish women). In 1990, the Jewish population
in the UK was estimated at 285,000.
Community Security Trust (CST), an organization that analyzes
threats to the Jewish community, recorded 511 antisemitic incidents
between July 2003 and June 2004. Examples of the types of
incidents reported are described below.
June 25, near Manchester, a group of five persons physically
assaulted a rabbi while shouting antisemitic statements. In
October 2003, a man driving past Borhamwood Synagogue shouted
antisemitic statements at members of the synagogue’s security
June 17, vandals caused a fire in the South Tottenham United
Synagogue resulting in the destruction of Jewish prayer books
smuggled out of Central Europe before World War II. On June
18, in an apparently unrelated incident, a suspicious fire
damaged a synagogue and Jewish educational center in Hendon.
slogans and swastikas were painted on 11 Jewish gravestones
at a Southampton cemetery in July 2003, and 20 Jewish gravestones
were damaged at Rainsough cemetery in Manchester in August
November, a deliberately-set fire caused severe damage to the
Hillock Hebrew Congregation near Manchester, and, in a separate
incident attackers used bricks to smash the windows of London’s
Orthodox Edgware Synagogue.
of some far-Right political parties—such as the BNP, the National
Front, and the White Nationalist Party—and extremist Muslim
organizations such as Al-Muhajiroun, occasionally gave speeches
or distributed literature expressing antisemitic beliefs, including
denials that the Holocaust occurred.
October 19, police charged Abu Hamza al-Masri with four counts
of soliciting or encouraging the killing of Jewish persons
based on recordings of his addresses to public meetings.
response to these and other incidents, British government officials
reiterated their commitment to addressing antisemitism and
protecting Jewish citizens through law enforcement and education. In
February 2005, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Nazi war crimes investigator,
Simon Wiesenthal, an honorary knighthood in recognition of
his lifelong efforts to counter anti-Semitism.
of 2002, France, at 519,000 had the third largest Jewish population
in the world. Paris, with a Jewish population of 310,000,
is the largest Jewish city outside of the U.S. and Israel. Along
with the Jewish community there are five million Muslims living
French government reported that there were 510 antisemitic
incidents (both incidents and threats) in the first six months
of 2005, as compared to 593 in 2003, and 932 in 2002. There
were 160 attacks against persons or property in the first seven
months of 2004, compared to 75 during the same period in 2003. The
French Justice Minister also reported that there were 298 antisemitic
acts between January 1 and August 20, 2005, of which 162 were
attacks against property, 67 were assaults against individuals
and 69 were press violations. These figures compare with 108
for all of 2003.
following are excerpts of reports on specific incidents.
May 30, in Boulogne-Billancourt, a seventeen-year-old Jewish
youth was attacked outside his home by a group of young men
yelling antisemitic slogans. The youth is the son of a local
June, an individual shouting "Allah Akbar" stabbed a Jewish
student and assaulted two other Jewish students in the city
of Epinay-sur-Seine. This same person is believed to be responsible
for similar knife attacks on five other victims, including
those of Haitian and Algerian origin. A suspect, reportedly
identified by several of the victims, was in custody at the
end of the period covered by this report.
March 23, in Toulon, a Jewish synagogue and community center
were set on fire. According to media reports, the arsonist
broke a window and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building. There
was minor damage and no injuries.
October 29-30, close to one hundred gravestones were desecrated
at a Jewish cemetery in Brumath, just outside Strasbourg. The
vandals painted swastikas and
on 92 Jewish gravestones.
November 2003, after an arson attack destroyed a Jewish school
in Gagny, President Chirac stated, "An attack on a Jew is an
attack on France" and ordered the formation of an inter-ministerial
committee charged with leading an effort to combat antisemitism. Since
its first meeting in December 2003, the committee has worked
to improve government coordination in the fight against antisemitism,
including the timely publication of statistics and reinforced
efforts to prosecute attackers.
February 2006, Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old French Jew from Paris,
was found naked, tortured and burned south of Paris after being
held for three weeks by a gang demanding a large ransom. Halimi
died of his injuries shortly afterwards. On February 23, French
police arrested twelve members of the gang. Another suspect
was arrested in Belgium. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkosy
described the crime as antisemitic in nature.
is among the five countries in Western Europe, along with the
United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and Holland, in which the
largest number of antisemitic incidents have occurred. Traditional
far right groups, along with Muslim youth, are considered responsible
for the attacks.
1933, when Hitler came to power, 500,000 Jews lived in Germany. Less
than 20,000 remained after the war.
of the year 2000, there were some 98,000 Jews living in Germany,
making it the ninth largest Jewish community in the world. It
is also the largest growing Jewish community due to the migration,
since 1990, of more than 100,000 Jews from the former Soviet
Union into Germany.
leaders in Germany believe that a newer, non-traditional form
of antisemitism is emerging in the country. The "new" form
tends to promote antisemitism as part of other stands against
globalization, capitalism, Zionism, and foreigners.
to the 2003 report by the Office for the Protection of the
Constitution, the total number of registered antisemitic crimes
decreased to 1,199 (from 1,515 in 2002). But among these the
number of violent crimes increased from 28 to 35, and the number
of desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, or memorials
went up from 78 to 115.
officials estimated there were more than 1,000 internet sites
with what they considered to be objectionable or dangerous
right-wing extremist content.
incidents are reported below.
July 22, a fifteen-year-old-boy in Hagen, along with two others,
threatened synagogue visitors with a knife and made antisemitic
July 31, a young man wearing a Star of David sticker was walking
on a street in Pankow, a suburb of Berlin,
when a right-wing extremist put a national Democratic Party
(NPD) leaflet in his hand. After dropping the leaflet on the
sidewalk, the rightist attempted to strangle the victim
and throw him on the ground. The victim had minor injuries,
and the police arrested the offender.
ancient Jewish cemetery in Düsseldorf was desecrated in June. Forty-five
gravestones were covered with swastikas, SS signs, and anti-Jewish
slogans. Other Jewish cemeteries, including in Bochum, Nickenich,
and Bausendorf, were vandalized during the reporting period.
are about 42,000 Jews living in Belgium as of 2005. Before
World War II, more than 100,000 lived in Belgium, mostly in
Antwerp (55,000) and Brussels (35,000). By the end of the war
more than 25,000 Jews died in the Holocaust. In the 1970s some
40,000 Jews lived in Belgium mostly in Antwerp and Brussels.
recent years the Jewish community has been increasingly concerned
about antisemitism. In 2005, the Center for Equal Opportunity
and the Struggle against Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination
reported that the annual number of complaints rose to 30 between
2000 and 2003. Prior to 1999, an average of four complaints
were reported. In the first eleven months of 2005, 40 complaints
were filed. The most serious incident involved the slaying
of a Jewish youth in Antwerp. Most complaints involved antisemitism
in the media, on the Internet, graffiti and verbal abuse. Examples
of the types of incidents that occurred are described below.
January 28, during an indoor Belgium-Israel soccer match in
the city of Hasselt, spectators with Hamas and Hezbolleh banners
heckled the Israelis and shouted antisemitic slogans, some
February, a group of students at a Jewish school in Brussels
were assaulted by youths from the neighborhood, a neighborhood
inhabited primarily by Muslim immigrants.
June 24, a number of allegedly North African youth assaulted
four Jewish students as they departed their Jewish school in
an Antwerp suburbs; one fleeing student was stabbed and seriously
injured. Jewish students at the school previously have been
subjected to verbal insult and harassment from these youths.
On June 26, three Jewish students from the same school were
harassed by four youths in a car. One fired what is believed
to be a toy gun at the students before driving away; there
were no injuries. Later that evening, elsewhere in the Antwerp
suburbs, a thirteen-year-old Jewish boy was beaten by three
youths. An eleven-year-old Moroccan and two Belgians, ages
eight and sixteen, were arrested and charged with racially
motivated assault and battery by a court for youthful offenders;
they were required to apologize to the victim and pay damages.
Also that evening, several immigrant youths reportedly kicked
a Jewish youth repeatedly on the main street of Antwerp, before
October 30, at a youth soccer match involving Maccabi Soccer
Club, an Antwerp-based team composed mainly of Jewish players,
members of the opposite team shouted "Heil Hitler" and other
acts or speeches are illegal in Belgium and several lawsuits
have been filed and resulted in guilty verdicts. During the
year, Prime Minister Verkoptadt met with Jewish Community leaders
and expressed the governments concerns over the recent incidents.
The Prime Minister also addressed the Belgian Parliament and
stated that such incidents were attacks on the country’s fundamental
values and institutions and could not be tolerated.
of 2005, there were about 33,000 Jews living in the Netherlands:
two tenths of a percent of the population. In 1940, at the
time of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, some 140,000
Jews lived there, comprising 1.6 percent of the population. Following
World War II in 1946, there were 30,000 Jews in the country.
Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) registered
334 antisemitic incidents from January 2003 to May 2004. In
2002, 359 incidents were recorded or registered. This marked
the first decline since 2000. In addition, the number of serious
incidents (that is, physical violence, threats with violence
and defacing of cemeteries and synagogues) decreased by 40
percent. CIDI also reported that a considerable number of
antisemitic offenders were of North-African origin.
antisemitic incidents were not violent. They involved abusive
language, hate mail, verbal insults at soccer matches, Internet "chat
room" discussions and Holocaust denial. The incidents were
most often linked to the conflict in Israel between Israelis
of 2005 there were some 55,000 Jews in Belarus, half of them
living in the capital city of Minsk. Prior to World War II,
Jews were the second largest ethnic group in what is today
Belarus and comprised more than 50 percent of the population
in cities and towns.
1979 there were 135,400 Jews living in Belarus. Between 1989
and 1991, 49,000 Jews emigrated to Israel.
leaders in Belarus report that memorials in Minsk and Lida
commemorating victims of genocide were vandalized. Vandalism
also occurred at Jewish cemeteries and at a Holocaust memorial
in Brest. The prosecutor’s office did not react to these incidents
and allowed groups of "skinheads" and the Russia National Unity
Party (RNE) to function openly in the major cities of Belarus. While
the police failed to prosecute suspects, the government did
restore monuments and memorials that were vandalized. Instances
of antisemitism may be seen in the excerpts.
a May 2003 order by the prosecutor general and the Ministry
of Information to terminate distribution of the antisemitic
and xenophobic newspaper Russki Vestnik, the newspaper
resumed in February through the government-distribution agency
Belzoyuzprechat. Sales of similar literature continued throughout
the year in government-owned buildings, in stores, and at events
affiliated with the Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC). Antisemitic
and Russian ultra-nationalistic literature continued to be
sold at Pravoslavnaya Kniga [Orthodox Bookstore], a store
operated by Orthodox Initiative and selling Orthodox literature
and religious paraphernalia. The head of the BOC, Metropolitan
Filaret, promised to stop such sales; however, no action has
January, the RNE distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in Gomel,
stating, "The Jews are trying to destroy Christianity," "Now
hostile activities against the Jews will begin," "The Jews
are the forces of evil," and "The fighters against God must
be exterminated." In addition, the letters RNE were sprayed
on the walls of the Jewish Community building in Gomel. No
suspects were arrested.
September 2003, Sergei Kostyan, Deputy Chairman of the International
Affairs Committee of the Lower House of Parliament, rejected
criticism regarding the installation of a gas pipeline near
a Jewish cemetery in Maozyr. Kostyan accused Jews of sowing "ethnic
discord." During an October press conference, Information
Minister Vladimir Rusakevich said the country should live with
Russia like a brother, but bargain with Russia like a "Yid."
of 2005, there are some 717,101 Jews living in Russia. They
make up 0.5 percent of the population and are the fifth largest
Jewish community in the world. In 1959, in the former Soviet
Union, the Jewish population was 2,267,800. By 1989, it dropped
to 1,450,500. Between 1990 and 2000, 980,000 Jews emigrated,
mostly to Israel and the United States. Current figures have
106,000 Jews living in Moscow, rated as the seventeenth largest
Jewish city in the world. St. Petersburg is the second largest
Jewish city in the country.
2003, the ADL reported that "while the number of antisemitic
attacks remained stable, the nature of the attacks became more
violent." Examples of the types of incidents that occurred
are described below
April 22, 2003, eight skinheads stormed the Ulyanovsk Jewish
Center screaming, "Don’t pollute our land," smashing windows,
and tearing down Jewish symbols as Jewish women and children
hid inside. No one was injured, but police failed to respond
quickly, arriving 40 minutes after they were called.
October 17, a group of skinheads tried to enter the synagogue
in Penza, but were stopped by parishioners. A group of approximately
40 people armed with chains and iron clubs approached the synagogue
later that day. The parishioners locked themselves inside
and called the police. There were reports that three skinheads
persons vandalized Jewish institutions. On many occasions,
vandals desecrated tombstones in cemeteries dominated by religious
and ethnic minorities. These attacks often involved the painting
of swastikas and other racist and ultra-nationalist symbols
or epithets on gravestones.
January 27, 2003, an explosion shattered several windows in
a synagogue in Derbent in the southern region of Dagestan. Vandals
attempted to torch a synagogue and library in Chelyabinsk in
February, but neighbors managed to extinguish the fire before
the arrival of firefighters.
March 29, 2003, vandals broke the windows of the only kosher
restaurant in St. Petersburg. Jewish cemeteries were desecrated
in Bryansk, Kaluga, Kostroma, Petrozavodsk, Pyatigorsk, St.
Petersburg, Ulyanovsk, and Vyatka. In Petrozavodsk, unknown
persons sprayed antisemitic graffiti on tombstones on the day
a local court was to render a decision in another case concerning
cemetery desecration. In February 2004, and again in December
2004, several Jewish tombs were desecrated in one of the oldest
cemeteries in St. Petersburg.
January 1, 2006, a Jewish Community Center in the provincial
capital city of Ulyanovsk was vandalized by unidentified individuals
who threw a bottle through a second floor window of the Jewish
Center shattering the glass in one of the offices. A leaflet
with antisemitic threats was posted near the entrance of the
center and antisemitic graffiti were written on the building.
The Ulyanovsk Center has been vandalized
before and extreme nationalists stormed it in 2003 and 2004.
No one was injured in any of the incidents.
of the antisemitic crimes were committed by groups of young
skinheads. The estimated number of skinheads increased from
a few dozen in 1992 to more than 50,000 in 2004. Antisemitic
rhetoric and beliefs have appeared with greater frequency in
the publications of nationalist parties such as Rodina the
Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and the Communist Party of
the Russian Federation (KPRF). One of the Senators of the
KPRF in the party’s newspaper blamed Zionism and Jews in general
for many of the country’s problems and blamed Soviet Jews for
helping to destroy the Soviet Union.
are at least 80 Russian websites dedicated to distributing
antisemitic propaganda. The law does not restrict websites
that contain hate speech.
to the U.S. State Department, responses to antisemitic violence
were mixed. Authorities often provided strong words of condemnation,
but preferred to label the perpetrators as "terrorists" or "hooligans" rather
than "xenophobes" or antisemites.
officials maintained regular contact with Jewish community
leaders. In March, then Russian Minister for Nationalities
Vladimir Zorin brought extremism to the forefront of the public
attention by calling antisemitism and xenophobia major threats
to the country.
March 2004, prominent rabbis Berl Lazar and Pinchas Goldschmidt
together requested that the government better define the meaning
of extremism. Lazar and Goldschmidt said that law enforcement
was prone to dismiss antisemitic actions as simple hooliganism
to avoid calling attention to the presence of extremists in
their region, and to consciously protect extremist groups with
which they sympathized. In October 2005, President Putin met
with Rabbi Lazar and promised that the state would help to
revive Jewish communities in Russia.
of 2005, there are 142,276 Jews living in the Ukraine, placing
the Ukrainian Jewish community among the ten largest Jewish
communities in the world. In 1989, there were an estimated
487,000 Jews in the Ukraine. Jews from the Ukraine represent
the biggest emigrant group to the U.S. over the last ten years.
overall figures are available for recent antisemitic incidents
but there have been numbers of specific events, such as an
attack on two rabbis in Central Odessa, the removal of gold
from the mass graves of Jews killed by Nazis at the Sosonkz
Memorial in Rivre, the destruction of several dozen tombstones
at Jewish burial sites in the Kurenvivske Cemetery
in Kiev and in other cemeteries in different regions of the
December 20, 2006 a Holocaust memorial was vandalized two days
before it was to be unveiled. Unidentified persons inscribed
a swastika and the Nazi acronym SS on the monument in Donetsk.
The memorial marks the border of the Jewish ghetto set up by
the Nazis before they sent the local Jews to their deaths.
January 2006 vandals painted antisemitic threats on the wall
of the Siyane Chesed Jewish Center in Murnask, the words "Beat
the Kikes" and "Holocaust 2007" were painted on the walls.
In July, 2006 vandals painted "Death to the Kikes" on the building.
antisemitic articles rarely appeared in the national press,
they do appear in small publications. The monthly journal Personnee, whose
editorial board included members of parliament, generally publishes
one antisemitic article each month.
large number of high-level government officials continued to
take part in the annual September commemoration of the massacre
at Babi Yar in Kiev, the site of one of the most serious crimes
of the Holocaust directed against Jews and thousands of individuals
from other minority groups. Discussions continued among various
Jewish community members about erecting an appropriate memorial,
and possibly a heritage center, to commemorate the victims. The
government was generally supportive of these initiatives.
is clear from the materials presented in the preceding sections
that antisemitism is on the rise in Europe. Western Europe,
notably Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands
have shown significant increases in verbal and physical attacks
on the Jewish community in their country and on Judaism generally. Of
those countries, France probably has the worst record. Jews
in France have responded to the increasing antisemitic sentiments
and actions by leaving the country and emigrating to Israel
in greater numbers than at any time since the establishment
of the Jewish state in 1948. In 2004, the Israeli government
reported that 7,024 immigrants had come from France since 2000. One
of the emigres was quoted in the Israeli press as stating "In
five or 10 years, all of the Jews of France will be in Israel
because of anti-Semitism." Perhaps the most surprising Western
European country included in this group is the Netherlands,
given its valiant record of helping and protecting its Jewish
community during World War II when the Dutch were under Nazi
rule. Eastern Europe, of course, has experienced hundreds
of years of pogroms and violent antisemitism under the Czars,
and later under Stalin.
finally, we report the results of a study just released in
February 2007, by the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism. The
report stated that antisemitic attacks rose in 2006, especially
in Europe. It
stated that there were hundreds of violent attacks, ranging
from murder, to bodily injury, property damage and threats.
In Austria, incidents increased by 66% in the past year, in
Germany by 60%, in the Scandinavian countries by 50%, and in
France and Russia by 20%. The Ukraine and the United Kingdom,
in contrast, reported a slight decline.
 This article is based on a longer version that will appear in
a special issue of Current Psychology edited by
Jeffrey Schaler and to be published by Transaction press
on “Anti-Semitism the World Over in the 21st Century.” The
stimulus for the special issue is the growing concern that antisemitism is
on the increase especially in selected countries of Western Europe, namely
France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Holland. In Eastern Europe,
Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia have also been identified by the U.S. State
Department as having increasing numbers of antisemitic incidents and expressions
of anti-Jewish attitudes.
 The report was sponsored by the Israeli government, the Jewish
Agency for Israel, and the World Zionist Organization.
J. Simon is a University Professor in the School
of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law. She
is the author and editor of 56 books dealing mainly with
, transracial adoptions, women and crime and the jury system.
She has served as Editor of The American Sociological
Review, Justice Quarterly, and is currently Editor of Gender
Issues. Professor Simon is the recipient of a Guggenheim
A. Schaler, a psychologist, teaches in the Department of Justice,
Law and Society at American University's School of Public Affairs. He is Executive Editor of Current Psychology,
a quarterly international journal, and editor of the Under
Fire series of books, published by Open Court Publishers in
Chicago. His most recent book is Howard Gardner under Fire:
The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics (2006).
- Global Jewish Magazine 2007