The number of anti-Semitic crimes has increased on a dramatic scale in Western Europe and overseas. In many places, decision-makers are powerless, while in other places there is a lack of intention to tackle the problem.
Anti-Semitism at an all-time high in the United States
More than 500 anti-Semitic acts targeting Jewish people, including assault, vandalism and harassment, were committed in California last year, an increase of more than 40 per cent from 2021, underscoring a proliferation of hate crimes and extremism in the state, according to a recent report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The report on California comes after the ADL released another report, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, that shows anti-Semitic incidents are at a new high worldwide, with the upward trend intensifying in the United States.
With 580 reported incidents, New York is the state at the top of the list. However, since this figure does not include unreported cases, the real number is probably much higher.
In Germany, immigrants are most likely to assume anti-Jewish attitudes
Anti-Semitism has taken on a serious dimension in several western European countries. Muslim immigrants, generally speaking, have rather strong anti-Semitic sentiments, as revealed by a recent scientific analysis by the Center for Research on Antisemitism (Zentrum fur Antisemitismusforschung, ZfA) at the Technical University of Berlin. The study was prepared in the wake of violent anti-Jewish outbursts at a demonstration organised by Arabs in Berlin at Easter.
ZfA evaluated existing studies published in the last ten years. The result is clear: basically every other immigrant coming from Islam-dominated countries has an anti-Semitic worldview.
Among other research, the ZfA cites a 2022 study by the Expert Council on Integration and Migration, which found that 11.3 per cent of Germans agree with anti-Jewish stereotypes. This proportion was 50.2 per cent among those with a Turkish migration background.
According to ZfA’s assessment, a similar picture emerges regarding anti-Jewish attitudes towards Israel, with significant differences in the attitudes of Germans and immigrants. ZfA arrived at the conclusion that important factors determining anti-Semitism included how long the individuals in question have lived in Germany, whether they have been naturalised, and what country they originally come from.
In other words, although hatred against Jews has existed in Germany all along, it has assumed a dramatic scale and become a kind of import item since the migration waves began.
According to authorities, Germany sees an average of five anti-Jewish crimes a day, reveals the government’s response to a question coming from a leftist party in the German parliament. So far this year, 1,555 anti-Semitic crimes have been recorded across the country, 55 of which have been classified as violent crimes, the federal government said, also listing a number of other crimes, such as
incitement to hatred, defamation, damage to property and the use of the symbols of unconstitutional organisations, which – in Germany – usually means wearing the swastika.
Life for Jews in Germany has changed significantly since 2015, when hundreds of thousands of migrants from areas of Islamic culture arrived in Germany. As Jewish activist Malca Goldstein-Wolf put it,
“the Muslims’ hatred of Jews is the greatest threat to Jewish life in Germany. There are comparatively far fewer violent right-wing extremists, but there are masses of Muslims who are not afraid to physically attack Jews wearing kippahs and are totally uninhibited in their hatred of Jews”.
France tops the list in terms of anti-Semitism
Out of all the European countries, France boasts the largest Jewish community, numbering around 500,000 people, yet Jews feel the least secure there, as a survey commissioned by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and conducted by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research shows. The study examined the following four main aspects: the Jewish community’s sense of security, public attitudes to Jews and Israel, levels of anti-Semitism and the performance of governments in terms of measures regarding statistics on anti-Semitic incidents, on Holocaust memorials, budgetary funds dedicated to the security of Jews, and ensuring the freedom of worship and the practice of Jewish customs. Looking at the results, the lower a country’s score, the worse the situation is in the context of anti-Semitism.
With all the aspects of the survey combined, France ranked tenth out of the twelve countries, falling far behind the best scoring Italy in first place. The article also revealed that Hungary ranked second on the list, while Belgium was in the last or worst spot.
As to the Jewish community’s sense of security, France finished in last place, meaning that Jews living there are the most worried about their security, while Denmark took the top place in this respect.
The most recent anti-Semitic murder occurred in 2018. The victim was an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mirelle Knoll, who was killed with 11 knife stabs and whose body was set on fire by her assailant, Yacine Mihoub, a Muslim man of African descent. The trial of the case took place in November 2021, and the perpetrator was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The case of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman who was cruelly murdered with an anti-Semitic motive, also sparked public outcry. In 2017, the woman’s neighbour, 27-year-old Kobili Traore, also of migrant background, broke into her home, where he brutally beat her and threw her out the window, while yelling “Allah-u Akbar”.
The court eventually acquitted the perpetrator, saying he was under the influence of drugs and therefore not in full control of himself, meaning that he is not punishable.
In 2015, France saw the most shocking crime with an anti-Semitic motive. On 9 January, a fully armed terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four people and took another seventeen hostage in the Hyper Cacher grocery store in Paris.
In 2006, the murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi made front-page headlines abroad. The young man was kidnapped and held captive for three weeks by a group of mainly Muslims, who called themselves the Gang of Barbarians.
He was tied to a radiator, repeatedly beaten and tortured, because of his Jewish descent. The gang demanded a ransom of 450,000 euros, believing that the Jewish man’s family was wealthy.
The ransom was never handed over. Ilan Halimi was found half-dead on the street in the suburbs of Paris, with most of his body covered with burns. He died while being rushed to hospital.