Major Study Eyes European Anti-Semitism

A major study of anti-Semitism in Europe has been launched by the European Union, with the aim of assessing the problem and recommending solutions.

It is likely the first survey ever to ask Jews in nine EU member states about their perceptions and experiences of anti-Semitism, hate speech, hate-motivated violence and discrimination.

The United Kingdom-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI has been commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to conduct the study, which comes at a time of increasing concern among Jews in some European countries, particularly as the intensifying economic crisis exacerbates age-old anti-Semitic sentiments.

But anti-Semitism - be it of the right-wing or Islamic extremist variety - is not a problem of concern only to Jews, IIoannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the EU agency’s department of equality and citizens rights, said in a statement announcing the commencement of fieldwork.

“Anti-Semitism remains an issue of concern today, not only to Jews, but to everyone in the EU,” Dimitrakopoulos said. “The ways in which it manifests itself vary according to time and place, and it affects Jews living in the EU in different ways.”

According to the statement, the online survey will “investigate first-hand examples of anti-Semitic harassment and violence, as well as the extent to which Jews feel safe and secure in Europe today, how they characterize anti-Semitism, and whether or not they perceive it to be a growing threat. It will further explore how and whether incidents are being reported, and levels of awareness among European Jews about their legal rights.”

For now, data will be collected in nine European Union member states – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Survey results are scheduled to be published in 2013.

Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, said in the statement that “It is clear to all observers of contemporary Jewish life that anti-Semitism continues to be a major preoccupation and worry in Jewish communal circles. If it is ever to be effectively tackled, it is essential to have shared, reliable data.”

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