USC Shoah Foundation testimony on antisemitism featured at launch conference by EU Fundamental Rights Agency for major antisemitism survey

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 4:26pm

Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism, and Kim Simon, managing director of USC Shoah Foundation, at the launch conference in Belgium.
A reel of testimony clips from USC Shoah Foundation was featured Monday at a European Union conference to release and discuss the results of a major survey that sheds light on the experiences and perceptions of antisemitism across Europe.  

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights says the survey is the largest poll of Jewish people ever conducted worldwide. Among its key findings is that 85 percent of European Jews consider antisemitism to be the biggest social or political problem in their home country.

The reel, which was featured for the officials at the same event where the survey results were revealed, is a product of the Institute’s Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony  program, a new collection of testimonies. To date, the collection includes about 60 interviews recorded in six European countries and the United States. From witnesses of violent events, to victims of antisemitism, and even those whose beliefs and attitudes related to antisemitism have evolved over time – the interviews provide a variety of perspectives.

The results of the EU questionnaire correspond with those of a poll released in November by CNN, which found, among other things, that 20 percent of Europeans believe that Jews have too much influence in media and politics.

 “In response to increasing antisemitic violence, USC Shoah Foundation embarked on this new collection in 2015,” said USC Shoah Foundation Managing Director Kim Simon, who attended the conference in Belgium. “Today’s survey reveals the scale and enormity of the problem. Our testimonies provided a personal and human response to the violence and everyday prejudice and discrimination.”

Viviane Teitelbaum, Member, Brussels Parliament, and Jan Deboutte, head of the Belgian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, at the launch conference in Belgium.

The study surveyed 16,500 people who identify as Jewish across 12 European Union countries. It concluded that antisemitism pervades everyday life, pervasive antisemitism undermines Jews’ feelings of safety and security, antisemitic harassment is so common it has become normalized and antisemitic discrimination in key areas of life remains invisible.

“Seventy years after the Holocaust, I am deeply saddened that nine out of 10 Jews in Europe say that antisemitism has increased over the past five years,” said Věra Jourová, European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. "The Jewish community should feel at home and safe in Europe, whether they are on the way to the synagogue or surfing online. The commission is acting together with member states to counter the rise of antisemitism, to fight Holocaust denial and to guarantee that Jews have the full support of the authorities to keep them safe.”

Among the specific findings:

  • 89 percent of Jews think antisemitism is most problematic on the internet and on social media;
  • 28 percent of respondents have been harassed at least once in the past year;
  • 79 percent of Jews who experienced antisemitic harassment in the past five years did not report this to the police or another organization;
  • 34 percent avoid visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe;

 The conference in Brussels came less than a week after the European Commission adopted a declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions.