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Anti-Semitism in the European Union: Preface

(Updated December 2003)

Although we know – and opinion polls show - that anti-Semitism is permanently present in Europe in a more or less hidden way, many of us have hoped that manifest forms of anti-Semitism will not see any revival in Europe again. At present, Jews are rather well integrated economically, socially and culturally in the Member States of the European Union (EU). But the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11 and the conflict in the Middle East have contributed to an atmosphere in Europe, which gives latent anti-Semitism and hate and incitement a new strength and power of seduction. Even rumours that Israel was responsible for 11 September 2001, for the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and that Jews bring about a situation in their interest in order to put the blame on somebody else, found a receptive audience in some places. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are spreading over the Internet, which provides a cheap vehicle for the distribution of hate.

Immediately after 11 September our primary concern was increased Islamophobia in the European Union. Right away the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia implemented a monitoring process in the Member States. The country-by-country results and a synthesis report have already been published. But early in 2002 there was additional concern about open anti-Semitic incidents in several Member States. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia found it necessary to carry out a more detailed investigation of the prevalence and kinds of anti-Semitism and to study, how it affects Jewish people living in Europe. It is the first study of this kind. It provides a flashlight on anti-Semitism in each of the 15 Member States.

The EUMC, through its RAXEN Information Network of National Focal Points in the EU Member States, received reports on anti-Semitism in the 15 Member States. The Center for Research on Anti-Semitism (CRA), Berlin, supplemented the country reports and brought them into a European perspective.

The report shows clearly an increase of anti-Semitic activities since the escalation of the Middle East conflict in 2000 with a peak in early spring 2002. But it reveals also positive developments. By 2003 the legal basis to fight against any discrimination on ethnic or religious grounds will be implemented in each of the EU Member States; all the governments and leading statesmen condemned anti-Semitic events and attitudes; many leaders of religious communities, political parties and NGOs are currently cooperating in the fight against anti-Semitism.

On the other hand, the EUMC is aware that more than only short-term measures have to be done. There is a need to implement activities on a continuous, long-term basis. For that end the report offers examples and recommendations to various groups of society on how to proceed and succeed in the struggle against the shadows of the European past.

Bob Purkiss, Chair of the EUMC, and Beate Winkler, Director of the EUMC

Sources: C.R.I.F. - Released by the European Jewish Congress