EU Survey: Nine out of ten Jews experience increasing anti-Semitism in Europe
A new survey, conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), has found an increasing level of anti-Semitism in Europe over the past five years.
In the survey, which was released in Brussels on Monday, about 90% of respondents felt that antisemitism is growing in their country. Around 90% also felt it is particularly problematic online, while about 70% cite public spaces, the media and politics as common sources of antisemitism.
Some 28% of those interviewed said that they had experienced harassment because of their Jewish identity; indeed, Antisemitism appears to be so deep-rooted in society that regular harassment has become part of their normal everyday life. Almost 80% do not report serious incidents to the police or any other body. Often this is because they feel nothing will change.
Almost 40% of the Jews who took part in the survey said that they were considering leaving Europe as they no longer felt safe in their home countries.
The Survey may be downloaded from the FRA website, here: http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2018/2nd-survey-discrimination-hate-crime-against-jews.
A brief summary of the Survey may be found, also on the FRA website, here: http://fra.europa.eu/en/press-release/2018/persistent-antisemitism-hangs-over-eu.
These figures will not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the situation over the last five years, but they are nevertheless depressing. While cities like Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen are today directly associated with terrorist attacks against Jews, according to the survey, anti-Semitism has become an everyday problem for Jews in the cities of Europe and many no longer dare to wear traditional religious symbols or attend Jewish events out of concern for their security and even fear for their lives.
The Christian church, for over fifteen centuries, was the chief proponent of anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution. Such was the consistency of its intolerance that most Jewish people confused being Christian with being anti-Semitic. For the last two hundred years the Church has been trying to correct that view. CMJ has been at the forefront of that change from its founding in 1809.
Concern for the Jewish people is essential to Christian obedience; the structures of our faith rest upon a Jewish foundation. Biblical instructions, like the Apostle Paul’s admonition to Gentile believers in Rome (Romans 11:13-27) make clear that God continues to love the Jewish people and has extended His love to them and to Gentiles through the work of Jesus.
I was privileged to attend a meeting in Jerusalem this week, addressed by the renowned historian Sir Simon Schama, perhaps best known to the public for his BBC Television series “The Story of the Jews”. Schama’s talk on the subject of Jewish Arguments Then and Now was typically erudite, clever, hugely informative and challenging. But at question time at the end of the talk, the focus quickly turned to anti-Semitism, and the dreadful rising awareness among Jews especially from the west that incidents in Brussels, or Paris, or Pittsburgh, or in any number of places in Europe and north America, are no longer exceptional, but have become the horrifying norm. Schools and synagogues across Europe have permanent security guards on patrol, and often local police as well. Vicious trolling in social media of him and other Jewish academics with holocaust-related memes, said Schama somewhat wistfully, was part of life now, and one just had to get used to it.
We could spend hours talking about the why, and that would be appropriate. But here, and now, let me just say this. We as Gentile believers who love Israel and the Jewish people are rightly accused by Jewish people of supporting Israel because Israel’s restoration is seen to be a necessary step on the road to the return of Jesus, the second coming. This is an ulterior motive for many of us in our support of Israel, because ultimately Israel’s re-establishment in its ancient homeland as a state for the Jews will somehow hasten the return of the Lord. And this undermines our support, and casts doubt on the extent and nature of our professed love. And if this is our motive for supporting Israel, we are wrong.
Almost everything we have in our spiritual heritage we have received from the Jews. The Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Evangelists, the Apostles and the Scriptures – all were or came from Jews It’s no wonder that Jesus said to the Woman at the well in John 4: 22, “Salvation is of the Jews!”
Our support for the Jewish people should arise from our gratitude for all that we have received from them.
But there’s more. For years one of the three pillars of CMJ’s ministry has been to stand with the Jewish people, wherever they are, in every circumstance, to encourage and support them. This is an essential element of our identity as the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People. Our support for Jewish people, our love for them, our standing with them must not, cannot come from some self-serving personal benefit, however great or altruistic. No, ultimately our support can have only one motivation: we support Israel and the Jewish people because it is the right thing to do!
It is incumbent upon us as believers in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews and the Saviour of the world, to stand with Jewish people everywhere against this scourge of anti-Semitism, to fight against it with all our might, and not only to stand but to be seen to stand with the Jewish people to support, encourage and strengthen them in every way we are able.
And here in Israel it is our responsibility and our calling also to stand with the nation of Israel in its conflicts with those who would destroy it whether by military might or by the twisted anti-logic of information lawfare.
This is hard, and sometimes costly, but it is the right thing to do. The author of Proverbs wrote:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17),
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
It is our privilege to be that brother, that friend. We cannot be found wanting in the time of trouble.