Survey: Quarter of European Jews Scared to Wear Kippot

Some 22% of European Jews avoid Jewish events and sites and the majority believe that anti-Semitism is on the rise.

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A quarter of respondents in a major survey of Jews from nine European countries said they avoid visiting places and wearing symbols that identify them as Jews, for fear of anti-Semitism.

The survey was conducted over the past year by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights among more than 5,100 Jews.

Fear of wearing a kippa and other identifiably Jewish symbols was especially strong in Sweden, where 49 percent of the 800 Swedish respondents said they refrained from highlighting their Jewishness,

Forty percent of French respondents and 36 percent of Belgian respondents also said that they avoided wearing Jewish symbols in public, according to preliminary results from the survey.

In total, 22 percent of respondents said they avoided Jewish events or sites because of safety concerns.

The survey, which began in September last year and closed last month, was conducted online in France; Britain; Belgium; Germany; Sweden; Italy; Hungary; Romania and Latvia. The full report is due to be published next month in Vilnius.

The results show that a majority of European Jews are experiencing a rise in anti-Semitism, Gert Weisskirchen said on Tuesday at a conference on anti-Semitism in Kiev. Weisskirchen is a former representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for fighting anti-Semitism.

In Hungary, 91 percent of more than 500 respondents said anti-Semitism had increased in the past five years. That figure was 88 percent in France, 87 percent in Belgium and 80 percent in Sweden. In Germany, Italy and Britain, some 60 percent of respondents identified a growth in anti-Semitism, compared to 39 percent in Latvia.

Figures for people who said they had experienced an anti-Semitic incident in the previous 12 months were 30 percent for Hungary; 21 percent for France and 16 percent for Germany.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the perpetrators were Muslims, 22 percent blamed people with left wing views and 19 percent said the people responsible had right-wing views.

More than 75 percent of respondents said they had not reported anti-Semitic harassment to the police and 64 percent said they did not report physical assaults, with 67 percent saying that reporting incidents was either not worth the effort or otherwise ineffectual.

Individual states need to address anti-Semitism not for the sake of the current generation, but to prevent a worsening of the situation for the next, said Oleksandr Feldman, the Ukrainian Jewish parliament member who organized the two-day conference titled From the Beilis Trial to Berlin and Beyond. It marked the 100th anniversary of the anti-Semitic blood libel trial against Menachem Mendel Beilis, who was acquitted of killing a Christian child to use his blood for rituals.

A visitor, wearing a Jewish skullcap, looks at an installation at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum.Credit: Reuters
Menachem Mendel Beilis under arrest in Kiev in 1911.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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