Antisemitic violence continued to rise across many parts of Europe and North America in 2007, despite improvements in some countries where there nevertheless remain historically high levels of violence motivated by anti-Jewish prejudice. But even in these places, there is pressure on people to conceal their Jewish identity. The decline in levels of antisemitic incidents in some countries coincided with an alarming trend toward an increasing number of violent personal assaults.
In 2007, overall levels of violent antisemitic attacks against persons increased in Canada, Germany, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom according to official statistics and reports of nongovernmental monitors. In the United Kingdom, violent antisemitic attacks rose while the overall incident level declined moderately. The proportion of antisemitic incidents involving violent attacks on persons held steady in France, even as overall levels of antisemitic incidents there dropped significantly. In Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States, antisemitic crimes of violence declined.
There are undoubtedly a number of other European countries where antisemitic violence is also problematic, but where information on attacks—either from official or unofficial sources—is much less readily available.
Between 2000 and 2005, levels of antisemitic violence had fluctuated significantly in direct relation to events in the Middle East, which provide new impetus for those already predisposed to antisemitism in Europe. Since 2005, this pattern has to some extent changed, with month-by-month levels of antisemitic violence showing little change. These more uniform rates show little correlation with specific events involving Israel and the Middle East. This does not mean however, that the threat of antisemitic violence has diminished. In fact, the new norm is for very high levels of antisemitic violence, still estimated in a number of countries to be several times higher than that of the 1990’s.
In some countries, the frequency and severity of attacks on Jewish places of worship, community centers, schools, and other institutions has resulted in a need for security measures by representatives of both the Jewish community and local or national government. Enhanced security can be credited for a reduction in attacks on Jewish sites and property in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where successive governments have made a strong commitment to protect the Jewish community. However, the need for such security is a powerful indicator of the revival of antisemitism in recent years.
Monitoring, a vigorous law enforcement response to individual incidents, cooperation between the police and affected communities, and attention to prevention, including through education, are all needed to combat antisemitism and its violent manifestations. Although some governments in Europe and North America have instituted effective systems of monitoring and reporting on antisemitic hate crimes, most have not. And, while local nongovernmental organizations and community leaders provide information on such crimes, as well as insights into the response of the communities affected to those crimes, these initiatives are no substitute for state authorities addressing the problem directly.