Qualitative and comparable data is essential in countering antisemitism. The European Union collects mainly through the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency EU-wide data on antisemitic hate crimes and incidents, as well as the the perspective of Jewish communities as the one affected by antisemitism.
The rise of antisemitism online during the pandemic
The findings of the study on The rise of antisemitism online during the pandemic. A study of French and German content commissioned by the European Commission and conducted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), comparing the first two months of 2020 with the first two of 2021, show a seven-fold increase in antisemitic content on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram in French, and over a thirteen-fold increase in antisemitic content in German.
Antisemitic content in French on Facebook was also engaged with through likes, comments and shares over half a million times between 1 January 2020 and 8 March 2021. Content in French received over three million retweets and likes on Twitter. Antisemitic content in German on Telegram was viewed over two billion times in the same period. The study also found a proliferation of ‘grey area’ content, which likely did not contravene legal thresholds around hate speech or Holocaust denial in France or Germany, but which nonetheless has the potential to be harmful.
Digital violent right-wing extremist content
The Commission published on 22 July 2021 a study entitled Heroes and scapegoats: Right-wing extremism in digital environments. The study focusses on the different aspects of digital violent right-wing extremist (VRWE) content, i.e., textual or visual messages that express acceptance, condoning, justification or acclamation of violence for the sake of a radical nationalistic ideal. The study, among other groups, focusses thereby on Jews as a target of VRWE.
Antisemitic hate crimes and hate incidents in the EU
The Annual FRA report provides an overview of available data on antisemitism as recorded by official and unofficial sources in the EU Member States as well as Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia. The data provided by the countries are supplemented with information from international organisations. All data presented in the report are based on the respective countries’ own defnitions and categorisations of antisemitism. An increasing number of countries are using the working defnition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The annual overview identifies several gaps in data collections in EU Member States. Some Member States lack official data on reported antisemitic incidents and data is in general not comparable. Limited data hinders the ability of policy and lawmakers to formulate efficient targeted measures.
It also draws attention to the problem of high-levels of under-reporting by victims. This can mask the true extent of antisemitism. It underlines the need for authorities to encourage victims to come forward and to be able to properly record antisemitic acts. Greater efforts to tackling under-reporting by encouraging victims and witnesses to report antisemitism is key. In addition, authorities need systems in place to record such incidents.
This report provides an overview of the most recent figures on antisemitic incidents available at the time of writing, as well as an overview of trends covering the period 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2020, or the period for which data are available at the country level.
The report contains a section that presents the legal framework and evidence from international organisations as well as a country by-country presentation of available data. The report also provides an overview of national action plans and other measures to prevent and combat antisemitism. It further provides information on how countries have adopted or endorsed the non-legally binding working defnition of antisemitism that the IHRA developed in 2016, and details on how they use or intend to use the working defnition.
Perspectives of Jewish Europeans on antisemitism
Upon request of the European Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency conducted a survey on Jewish people’s experiences with hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism in the European Union – the biggest survey of Jewish people ever conducted worldwide. Covering 12 EU Member States, which are home to 95% of European Jewish population, the survey reached almost 16,500 individuals who identify as being Jewish.
Nine in 10 (89 %) Jews consider that antisemitism has increased in their country, with more than eight in 10 (85 %) considering it to be a serious problem. Jews around Europe rate antisemitism as the biggest social or political problem where they live.
They assess antisemitism as being most problematic on the internet and on social media (89 %), followed by public spaces (73 %), media (71 %) and in political life (70 %). The most common antisemitic statements Jews come across – and on a regular basis – include that “Israelis behave like Nazis toward Palestinians” (51 %), that “Jews have too much power” (43 %) and that “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes” (35 %). Respondents most commonly come across such statements online (80 %), followed by media other than the internet (56 %) and at political events (48 %).
The survey showed that hundreds of Jews personally experienced an antisemitic physical attack. More than one in four (28 %) experienced antisemitic harassment at least once. Nearly half of them worried about being subjected to antisemitic verbal insults or harassment (47 %), and four in 10 worried about an antisemitic physical attack (40 %).
One in three (34 %) respondents avoid visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe as Jews when there or on their way there. More than one third considered emigrating (38 %) in the five years preceding the survey because they did not feel safe as Jews in the country where they live.
Specific impact on young Jewish Europeans
In many respects, young Jewish Europeans hold the keys to the future of Jewish life in Europe, as well as to the possibility of creating and maintaining a unique European form of Judaism and to the potential of bringing the best of Jewish tradition, culture and insight to help build the Europe of tomorrow. The decisions they take – not least, whether to remain in Europe and be part of the project to strengthen it, or to leave Europe out of fears for their safety as Jews – will speak volumes about the nature of Europe and its ability to absorb and respect cultural difference.
General population perception of antisemitism
A Eurobarometer survey on Antisemitism conducted face-to-face interviews with 27,643 people in 28 Member and respondents were asked about their perception of Antisemitism.
While every other European considers Antisemitism to be a problem in their country, 4 in 10 Europeans actually do not consider it to be an issue in their country. There are significant differences in perception among Member States. People saying that Antisemitism is a problem is highest in countries with significant Jewish communities, and where physical attacks against the Jewish community have taken place, including Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, UK, and Belgium. Swedish (81%) and French (72%) respondents are the most likely to say that Antisemitism is a problem in their country. Both countries stand out with heightened perception throughout the survey. Europeans with Jewish friends and acquaintances are more likely to be aware of the issues as well as increase in Antisemitism, as well as those who belong to a minority themselves.
Only 3% of Europeans feel ‘very well informed' about Jewish history, customs and practices, and 68% say they are ‘not informed' at all. The majority of Europeans (61%) know that there is a legislation criminalising incitement to violence or hatred against Jewish people in their country. Significantly less are aware of legislation criminalising Holocaust denial (42%).
Holocaust denial is perceived as being a problem in their country by about half of Europeans (53%). On average, only 4 in 10 Europeans think the Holocaust is sufficiently taught in schools. Among people who ﬁnished their education earlier, this is only 3 in 10.The shorter the formal education, the more people feel it is not sufficiently taught.