|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
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 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
- They are the cause of all
- They possess too much wealth
- They arrogantly claim supremacy
over other people;
- They killed Jesus; and
- They 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.
A 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 threat.
paragraphs that follow, we provide a country-by-country account
of antisemitic incidents and opinions from 2000 to 2006.
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
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.
Nazi 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 2003.
November, a deliberately-set fire caused severe damage to the
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.
On 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
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.
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 rabbi.
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
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.
In 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
is among the five countries in Western Europe, along with the
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,
According 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.
German 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.
On July 22, a fifteen-year-old-boy
in Hagen, along with two
others, threatened synagogue visitors with a knife and made antisemitic
On 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 in Arabic.
February, a group of students at a Jewish school in Brussels
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 escaping.
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 abusive language.
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 and Palestinians.
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
Despite 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 been taken.
January, the RNE distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in Gomel,
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
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
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,
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.
On 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
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 country.
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
report was sponsored by the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency
for Israel, and the
World Zionist Organization.
Rita 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 immigration ,
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 Fellowship.
Jeffrey 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