Anti-Semitism among Elements of the Arab and Muslim Population in Europe
Identifying a growing source of aggression toward Jews
While Western European countries have greatly improved the collection of detailed hate crime data with specific information on anti-Semitic incidents, much less is known about the perpetrators. However, recent surveys of those Jewish communities, such as the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey of 2012, tell us that a growing number of them are being carried out by people of Arab or Muslim background.
Jewish institutions and individuals have been singled out as targets by radical, Islamist terrorists, which has placed a significant security burden on financially strained community budgets and raised international alarm. But for most European Jews it is the day-to-day fears of verbal and sometimes physical harassment in schools and on the streets that have stoked anxieties and even changed behavior. Right wing and neo-Nazi elements have not disappeared, but the self-reporting of Jewish victims today frequently point to young men from Muslim, immigrant communities.
Although these perpetrators surely represent only a small minority, opinion surveys do suggest that European Muslims harbor stronger anti-Jewish attitudes than the population as a whole.
One recent survey conducted by AJC Paris and the leading think tank Fondapol found that between half and two-thirds of French Muslims believe that Jews have too much power in the economy, finance, politics, and the media, and that Jews use their status as victims of the Holocaust to further their own interests.
The more governments know about the perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents and the views they hold, the better able they will be to address them. Yes, it is a question of security, but it is also a matter of education and public awareness.