Anti-Semitism Soars in France; Congress to Meet Wednesday to Address Issue
Next month we will mark one year since the horrific shooting of a Rabbi, his two children, and one other student outside of Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. As we approach the solemn anniversary of this tragedy, a new report suggests that the very anti-Semitism that fueled such a senseless act not only remains prominent across Europe, but is indeed growing.
According to the Jewish Community Protection Service in France, French anti-Semitism increased by a frightening 58% in 2012. And of the 614 registered incidents, more than half were physical or verbal assaults, representing an 82% increase since 2011. It is troubling that a kippah still makes one a target for assault, and that affiliating oneself as a Jew poses a real risk of persecution.
One major concern is the consistency of stereotypes about Jews that were common in the 1930s. In a study of European anti-Semitism conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, 75% of those polled in Hungary, for example, believed that Jews have too much power in the international financial markets. This perspective is shared by 60% of those in Spain and 35% of those in France.
On Wednesday, Members of Congress will have the opportunity to discuss what action can be taken from the U.S. At a hearing hosted by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), expert witnesses will give testimony about the threats of anti-Semitism in Europe. This hearing, which will serve as an important opportunity for dialogue, must also be an impetus for action. As the last survivors of the Holocaust pass away, it is our collective responsibility to put into place systems and cures so that we can give real meaning to the phrase “never again.”
We are on the cusp where European societies may either fall back into old and dangerous anti-Semitic patterns, or may advance from the terrors of the Holocaust into a future void of such prejudice and persecution. If the polling data from France is correct, much work remains if we are to ensure the continuity of religious freedom and the safety of our Jewish brothers and sisters abroad.
Image courtesy of Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images