Recent weeks have witnessed a disturbing rise in antisemitic incidents across Europe, triggered by the conflict between Israel and Hamas. In Lyon, France, a Jewish woman was stabbed in her home, with a swastika found painted on her door. In Berlin, attackers targeted a synagogue and Jewish community center with Molotov cocktails. Similarly, Jewish sections of cemeteries were set on fire in Vienna, Austria, and a violent mob in Dagestan, Russia, searched for Jewish passengers arriving from Israel.
Reports of antisemitic acts have surged in various European countries following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, leading to approximately 1,400 Israeli casualties and an alarming death toll in Gaza, including thousands of children. In the United Kingdom, antisemitic incidents quadrupled immediately after the initial attacks, as reported by the Community Security Trust. Germany saw 70 incidents in just 11 days, triple the previous year’s numbers, and France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, witnessed over 1,000 incidents in a month, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
Jewish homes in Paris and Berlin have been marked with Stars of David, reminiscent of the violence suffered by European Jews less than a century ago. The European Commission issued a statement, acknowledging the extraordinary levels of antisemitic incidents reminiscent of dark times in history, expressing deep concern for the safety of European Jews.
This surge in antisemitism has sparked fear among Jewish communities, with many leaders expressing their concern. European leaders, including Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have condemned the rise in antisemitic incidents and pledged to take action. France attempted to ban pro-Palestinian protests but faced criticism from human rights advocates.
While protests against Israel’s actions have taken place globally, concerns arise regarding antisemitic slogans and actions, with some actions deemed legitimate protest while others are perceived as antisemitic. Past conflicts between Israel and Palestine have correlated with increased antisemitic incidents in Europe, indicating a worrisome trend.
In response to the escalating situation, Jewish schools have canceled classes, and individuals are taking precautions such as concealing religious symbols and refraining from speaking Hebrew in public. European Jews fear that their communities could deteriorate further, raising concerns about the safety of their children.