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Europe’s Worrying Surge of Antisemitism

Protect European Jews and Uphold Right to Peaceful Protest

Police officers at the entrance to the New Synagogue in the state capital in Thuringia, Erfurt, Germany, on May 18, 2021. © 2021 Martin Schutt/picture-alliance/dpa via AP Images

A Rabbi attacked in the street. A synagogue daubed with a swastika. Hate shouted from a loudspeaker in a Jewish neighborhood.

These are only a few of the alarming incidents of antisemitic hatred witnessed in Europe last weekend, including in the UK, Germany, and Austria. As Jewish groups have been warning, antisemitism is on the rise again in Europe.

Much of it comes from traditional quarters of the far-right, and more recently from those protesting Covid-19 restrictions. Yet last weekend’s incidents – some of which took place during or after pro-Palestinian protests in European capitals – are a reminder that antisemitism is also found among some who claim to support the Palestinian cause.

These anti-Semites use human rights abuses by the Israeli state against Palestinians as cover for hatred of Jews everywhere.

European leaders are right to strongly condemn such hate and take steps to protect Jewish communities, including holding criminal suspects to account.

Pro-Palestinian activists, the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom, and Muslim religious leaders in Europe are among those condemning efforts to instrumentalize the suffering of Palestinians to justify hate against Jews.

There is work to be done in the realm of education, both in history and citizenship education, to ensure Europeans understand the horrors of the Holocaust, the profound impact of ideologies based on hatred, and to differentiate between legitimate criticism of governments and expressions of hate against people based on religion, including against Muslims.

Authorities in Europe must also ensure these efforts do not chill legitimate protest and opposition to Israeli state action or calls on European leaders not to be complicit in abusive actions by the Israeli state.

French authorities banned a pro-Palestine protest on Saturday in Paris, arguing a similar protest in 2014 led to violence. The ban left those who wished to peacefully express opposition to events in Gaza with no outlet.

In recent years, Jews in many European countries have reported an increase in hate incidents and say they feel increasingly unsafe. Synagogues have been attacked. Jewish cemeteries desecrated. Jewish children bullied in school for their faith.

Those who want a world where everyone is treated with dignity and humanity should stand up against anti-Semitic hate in Europe.

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