Which European countries are best for Jews? A new study offers unexpected answers.

June 22, 2022

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Antisemitic sentiment is especially prevalent in Italy and Hungary, according to multiple surveys. But a first-of-its-kind index combining different measures of Jewish experience found that they are also the best countries in Europe for Jews to live in.

The index, unveiled Monday, is based on a study that combines polling data and policy information to create a single quality-of-life metric for Jews in the 12 European Union countries with sizable Jewish communities, according to Daniel Staetsky, a statistician with the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research who wrote the report for the European Jewish Association in Brussels.

“The goal with this report is to take the excellent data we already have about how Jews feel, about how prevalent antisemitism is, and combine it with government policy measurables,” Staetsky said during a conference held by the European Jewish Association in Budapest.

He said the results may challenge preconceptions about which EU countries are most hospitable to Jews. For example, Germany scored high when it came to government policies relating to Jews. But Jews there report a weak sense of security, leading to an overall middling score.

The index is primarily a tool “to demand concrete action from European leaders,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association. “We welcome statements against antisemitism by European leaders. But more than statements is needed.”

The European Jewish Association will make individual recommendations to each country surveyed, Margolin added at the press event. It was part of a two-day event sponsored by multiple Jewish organizations, including the Consistoire in France, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, about how European Jewish communities can aid the one in Ukraine.

Titled “Europe and Jews, a country index of respect and tolerance towards Jews,” the study gives Belgium, Poland and France the lowest scores with 60, 66, and 68 points out of 100, respectively. The three top countries have 79, 76 and 75 points, followed by Britain and Austria (75), the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Spain (74, 73, 72, 70.)

To come up with the ranking, Staetsky gave each surveyed country grades on multiple subjects, including the Jewish sense of security, public attitudes to Jews and the number of Jews who said they’d expereinced antisemitism. The grades were based on major opinion polls in recent years, including those conducted by the Action and Protection League, a group that monitors hate crimes against Jews in several European countries, and the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency.

The study combined those scores with scores the author gave to countries’ government policies, including their funding for Jewish communities, whether they had adopted a definition of antisemitism, and the status of Holocaust education and freedom of worship.

Under that scoring system, Germany received an overall score of 72 despite having the best score (89) on government performance on issues related to Jews and a solid 92 when it came to the prevalence of antisemitism. But a relatively low score on Jewish sense of security (46) hurt its overall score, among other factors.

In the case of Hungary, “the score it received reflects the reality on the ground,” according to Shlomo Koves, the head of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH umbrella group of Jewish communities in Hungary. “Jews can walk around here, go to synagogue, without the slightest fear of harassment,” he said.

But the prevalence of antisemitic sentiments in Hungarian society — an Anti-Defamation League survey from 2015 found that about 30% of the population hold them — “shows there is work to be done here, too, in education and outreach,” Koves said.

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

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COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Diary March 18
Concerns about politics.
One of the prominent figures of the Jewish Netherlands, who is apparently occasionally tormented by the disease called jealousy, approached me with the comment that he had heard that I will be speaking next Sunday for the NIK on Zoom because of Pesach and expressed the hope that I would not speak about anti-Semitism again and would not have my message / lecture included with those Christians
Of course I don’t have to justify myself and I can do whatever I want, but it bothered me anyway. Because with “those Christians” professional recording equipment was available and “those Christians” were willing to make a good recording completely free of charge, I had made my NIK Hanukkah presentation with and by "those Christians". Some years ago I had received a similar comment, from that same person, about “those Christians” I needed to have less contact with them. I understand that setup. What I did not fully understand, however, was that the same critic then went to “those Christians” to ask for financial support for his, otherwise fine, projects.
Nothing new under the sun. I remember speaking to an eminent physician some time ago. This ‘eminence’, he told me personally, was not so much down to his expertise in his field, but as a much about his political qualities. No, he was not in politics, he was referring to politics at the top of his university hospital. When I heard a little bit of that politics I immediately thought of the rabbinic world! (Just kidding, because rabbis don't do politics!)
Because there is politics everywhere. Especially in the real and necessary democratic politics: The elections!
I haven’t been able to sleep all night. When I looked at the new composition of the House of Representatives, I was overcome with concern. I hope and pray that I misjudge it completely, but I fear it. Of course, there can be criticism of Israeli Politics, that does not have to be a sign of anti-Semitism.
But if there is only talk about Israel and not a word is mentioned about the feudal dictatorships of the countries around Israel, then I do not understand. I understand and accept that one of our prominent mayors in a speech at #MayorsAgainstAntisemtism claims that criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, as well as criticism of Rutte. But that’s not the problem. Criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, 50% of Israel criticizes him and that does not degrade them to anti-Semites. The problem is that there is almost exclusively criticism of Israel. That Israel is by far at the top of the list for UN Resolutions. The role of a mayor should be in trying to connect his townspeople, and that does not happen by importing sensitive foreign conflicts. Do I think this mayor is anti-Semitic? Absolutely not! Do I think this mayor should be allowed to criticize Netanyahu? Sure! But what I regret is that criticism of Israel unfortunately and often unintentionally leads to anti-Semitism.
How often am I not allowed to explain that I speak Dutch, although I am a Jew but not born in Israel. The superficial one-sidedness in the experience, however nuanced a mayor may present it, causes anti-Semitism here in our country. And so: if the mayor believes we should keep the Middle East problem out of the city, then criticize Israel, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea, China, on… and on…. But even better: let the mayor try to bind the various population groups within the city limits and call them to develop activities that unite together. And then, if connections and friendships have arisen, then, despite the diversity, the friendship itself can look at bottlenecks and differences of opinion that seemed unmentionable. Do you think that can succeed? Often not, but sometimes it does.
And sometimes I cherish that, because I have sometimes been able to experience this often!
And to the prominent Jewish Dutchman I would like to say: next week it is Pesach and Jews all over the world read the Hagadah, which describes the Exodus from Egypt at that time.And what do we read there about the present and now? “Because in every generation we are rebelled against us to destroy us” literally. And then the text continues and says that G-d will save us in the end. The Jewish people live and survive, but all kinds of things happen along the way. We must know, prevent and combat that, but not deny it! I hope that the new House of Representatives will want to fight that battle with us and will want to exercise vigilance.

COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
 
Mr cohen from Schin op Geul
 
The world is turned upside down. The UK in isolation. My grandson, who lives in London but is studying at a Talmud College in Israel, will join us soon. He had flown from Israel to London for a week to attend his older brother's wedding, but now cannot go back. And so he travelled to Calais last night via Dover, is now in Belgium and will come here immediately in the hope / expectation that he can still fly to Israel from the Netherlands.
 
Incidentally, he has been tested for corona and according to the test he is in possession of a very large number of antibodies and we do not have to worry about contamination, although we will of course observe the 1½ meters.
 
We have made it through Hanukkah quite well, but uncertainties are starting to gnaw more and more and so the limitations of human ability are becoming increasingly visible. But in the meantime, that ‘other’ older virus is also spreading: in the ND, the Nederlands Dagblad I am quoted:
Chief Rabbi Jacobs: 'Prohibition of kosher slaughter has been a precursor to the persecution of the Jews throughout the centuries'. 'Naturally we want to contribute to the welfare of animals,' emphasizes Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. 'Well-being is not only about slaughter, but also about everything before that: the stables, transport. The focus is now on one point: slaughter. I would like to sit with the PvdD, but then for the total well-being. ' Jacobs is moved by the ruling of the European Court. "If they're really concerned about animal welfare, let them bring up animal cruelty and sadism in slaughterhouses and the large meat industry."The Chief Rabbi sees the will to ban kosher slaughter as a sign of rising anti-Semitism. 'The first ban that Hitler issued in the Netherlands was that of kosher slaughter. It is absolutely not the case that I accuse the people who are now advocating a ban with anti-Semitism. But the phenomenon has always been a precursor to the rising persecution of the Jews. That worries me very much. ' 'Animal welfare is very high on the Jewish standard', he continues. 'Kosher slaughter is precisely about the welfare of the animals. And even if the animal is stunned, ie paralyzed, no one knows whether the animal suffers when it is cut into pieces. Science does not clarify this. ' Jacobs foresees major consequences if the Netherlands, like Flanders, imposes a ban on kosher slaughter without anesthesia. 'Then we can't eat meat anymore. Or we have to import it. It would be more consistent if the Party for the Animals advocated a general ban on meat. Then I would become a vegetarian. ' According to him, the consequences are even more far-reaching: 'Orthodox Jewish people will leave the Netherlands. And Orthodox Jewish life is already so sparse. They are the core of the Jewish community. If it disappears, the periphery of the Jewish community will also disappear. ' The European Court of Justice partly relies on science for its judgment. However, according to Jacobs, this is not unambiguous. A ban on ritual slaughter is drastic for the Jewish community. "It's an erosion of the faith community."
 
And in the RD, the Reformatorisch Dagblad, Rabbi v.d. Camp words to that effect and elsewhere I also saw that Lowenstein expressed the same concern. It is nice that it is precisely through an attack on a religious aspect of Judaism that something very unique becomes visible, something to which I was drawn to the attention of, among other things, a non-Jewish employee at the EO. I was at the EO a few days ago to record a podcast for the Jewish Broadcasting Company. Afterwards you talk a little longer. If a member of one of the PKN municipalities no longer sees the faith, he deregisters and is therefore no longer Protestant. But the Jew always remains a Jew, he explained to me! I remember a certain Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul. He was an atheist, anti-Zionist, vehemently against Israeli politics and wanted nothing to do with Judaism. Of course, he did not want to speak to me, he explained to me in an impassioned speech of at least half an hour. But when some years later the local pastor asked him to give a lecture to his church about Israel's special position in the Middle East and so he was actually asked to defend Israel's politics and for the unassailable union between Jews and the holy Land, he called me and asked to help him prepare for his talk.
 
And we see the same thing now. Because also Jews who really do not attach any importance to kosher food and certainly not to kosher meat, for whom kosher slaughter has no value and who will not be harmed by any means if there is a ban on kosher slaughter, stand hand in hand with me in the fight against the ruling of the European Court. Why? Because they too feel that it is not primary here that this is not primarily about animal welfare, but about the survival of the Jewish Community in Europe. But does the unbelieving Jew (if any) then need the survival of religious Judaism? And then I just quote that non-Jewish employee of the EO: being a Jew goes deeper than just faith and is certainly not linked at all to membership of the Jewish community.
 
I think that Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul is an exemplary example of this.

 

Hitler's Prewar Speeches Fetch Thousands at Contentious Auction

Handwritten notes for speeches given by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler have been sold at auction in Munich. Jewish groups had expressed concerns that they might serve as encouragement to neo-Nazis.
An auction house in Munich on Friday sold notes handwritten by Adolf Hitler for speeches he gave before World War II, despite criticism from representatives of the Jewish community.
The manuscripts were purchased by anonymous bidders, with all of them going for far more than their starting prices. The top price of €34,000 ($40,300) was reached by a nine-page document with notes for a speech to new military officers in Berlin in 1939, just eight months before World War II began.
The Hermann Historica auction house has defended the sale in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, saying that the notes were of historical significance and should be kept in a museum or given to researchers.
Vehement criticism
Ahead of the auction, representatives of the Jewish community criticized the sale of the documents, saying they could serve as welcome fodder to neo-Nazis at a time when anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic crimes are on the rise in Germany and Europe.
"I cannot get my head around the sheer irresponsibility and insensitivity, in such a febrile climate, of selling items such as the ramblings of the world's biggest killer of Jews to the highest bidder," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, said in a statement. "What auctions like this do is help legitimize Hitler enthusiasts who thrive on this sort of stuff."
The article was published on DW.com

President of the Portuguese Republic blessings for Rosh HaShanah

The EJA warmly thanks H.E. Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, for His Excellency's kind wishes to the European Jewry in light of the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah

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