With antisemitism rising as the Israel-Hamas war rages, Europe’s Jews worry

by Sophia Chen
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Antisemitism Europe

In Geneva, Michel Dreifuss, a retired tech worker, feels the impact of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The violence, including a Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s counterattacks in Gaza, has reverberated through Europe, heightening concerns about antisemitism. Dreifuss, apprehensive about his safety as a Jew, recently purchased tear gas spray for protection.

The situation has escalated with the killing of approximately 1,200 people in Israel by Palestinian militants, marking the most significant loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust. The response from Israel has been intense, with claims of significant Palestinian casualties. This conflict has reignited fears in Europe, a continent with a long history of antisemitism, especially considering the events of World War II.

The reaction to the violence is mixed, with many in Europe sympathizing with Israeli victims and hostages, including children, yet others show a lack of empathy. Holocaust survivor Herbert Traube expressed dismay at the absence of widespread condemnation of these attacks.

The definition of antisemitism is a topic of debate. While traditionally defined as hostility towards Jews, the line between criticism of Israel’s policies and antisemitism is blurred. Critics argue that conflating the two undermines legitimate opposition to Israeli policies and exaggerates the perception of antisemitism.

Reports from various European countries indicate a surge in antisemitic incidents. France, Denmark, and the UK have all reported significant increases in such events, despite official condemnations of antisemitism.

European Jews are experiencing increased hostility, leading to changes in their daily lives. Some are concealing signs of their Jewish identity, while others face direct attacks or discrimination. In Germany, there have been attempts to firebomb synagogues, and in France, a Jewish woman was attacked in her home.

Many in the Jewish community are considering relocating to Israel, feeling safer there despite the ongoing conflict. At pro-Palestinian demonstrations, chants interpreted by many Jews as calls for the destruction of Israel have exacerbated fears.

In response to the rise in antisemitism, initiatives like hotlines and educational programs are being launched to support the Jewish community and combat prejudice. Peggy Hicks of the U.N. human rights office emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between legitimate criticism of government actions and discrimination. She remains hopeful, noting instances of reconciliation and compassion even among those deeply affected by the conflict.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Antisemitism Europe

What is the main concern of European Jews in light of the Israel-Hamas conflict?

European Jews are increasingly worried about their safety due to a surge in antisemitism linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict. This has led to heightened fears and changes in daily life, including concealing Jewish identity and reconsidering living in Europe.

How has the Israel-Hamas conflict affected antisemitism in Europe?

The conflict has led to a significant rise in antisemitic incidents across Europe. Reports from France, Denmark, and the UK show a marked increase in antisemitic events, despite widespread official condemnation of such acts.

What actions are European Jews taking in response to increased antisemitism?

Many European Jews are taking precautionary measures to protect themselves, such as hiding symbols of their Jewish identity and avoiding public expression of their heritage. Some are considering moving to Israel, feeling it might be safer despite the ongoing conflict.

How is the definition of antisemitism relevant to the current situation?

The definition of antisemitism is debated, especially in the context of distinguishing between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and outright antisemitism. This debate affects the perception and response to the rising antisemitic incidents in Europe.

What are some initiatives being undertaken to address rising antisemitism in Europe?

Initiatives include setting up hotlines for psychological support, educational programs in schools to address antisemitism, and increased security measures for Jewish communities. These efforts aim to support those affected and to educate the wider public to foster better understanding and tolerance.

More about Antisemitism Europe

  • Understanding Antisemitism
  • Israel-Hamas Conflict Overview
  • Antisemitic Incidents in Europe
  • Antisemitism Definition and Debate
  • Initiatives Against Antisemitism in Europe

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