Anti-Semitism Trends in Europe Are More Complex Than In the U.S.

Think again.
April 24 2014 5:57 PM

Anti-Semitism: The Numbers

125292046-monument-commemorating-the-pogrom-of-jews-in-the
Swastikas drawn on a monument commemorating an anti-Jewish pogrom, Jedwabne, Poland, September 1, 2011.

Photo by Artur Reszko/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday I wrote about the exaggeration and exploitation of anti-Semitism. I discussed three cases: 1) the shooting of three people at two Jewish facilities in Kansas, 2) the campaign against a U.N. official for alleged anti-Jewish bias, and 3) an anti-Semitic flyer in Ukraine. With regard to the Kansas shooting, I cited data from the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League showing that anti-Semitic hate crimes have been declining in the U.S. I contrasted these data with a statement from the European Jewish Congress, which said that the shooting “demonstrates that neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are becoming emboldened” and that “we are witnessing an intolerable rise in neo-Nazi violence on a global scale.”

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

In comments on the article, two readers criticized this juxtaposition. “The European Jewish Congress is talking about incidence of Anti-Semitism around the world,” wrote Lon. “Falling rates in the US don't actually contradict what they are quoted as saying.” Another commenter, Emily, added that “using US hate crime measures to infer anything about worldwide attitudes towards Jews or anti-Jewish violence is naïve.”

Advertisement

Lon and Emily are right. I shouldn’t have framed the FBI and ADL data as a rebuttal to the EJC. What the FBI and ADL data show is that anti-Semitic hate crimes in the U.S. have been declining and that the Kansas shooting is an outlier. These data don’t address trends in Europe or elsewhere. And the data in Europe are much more complicated.

There’s no reliable index of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, because each country defines or compiles these incidents differently. The next best thing is this table, published six months ago by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. It shows trends in indices used by different countries during the previous decade:

antisemitism1

Over the 10-year period, the indices in France and Germany ended up in a lower range than where they began. The index in Sweden ended up in a higher range. The indices in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and Slovakia went up and down. The index in the Czech Republic peaked in 2009 and has been falling since.

Using the terrific Web site of the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, I went back through all the available national reports on anti-Semitic incidents that have been published this year. Here’s a 10-year graph from Canada, showing an increase from 2005 to 2010, albeit with a slight drop last year:

antisemitism2

Here’s a five-year chart from the U.K., more suggestive of decline:

antisemitism3

Here’s a similar table from Russia, again suggesting a negative trend line. The top row, translated to English, counts victims of hate crimes. The bottom row counts victims of clearly anti-Semitic attacks.

antisemitism4

It’s best to look at changes over a decade or more. Here, for instance, are the only decade-long numbers I’ve seen from the Netherlands (published in the EAFR report):

antisemitism5

On balance, it appears to me that more of these countries show declines than show increases. But that’s subject to statistical argument, and it doesn’t change the fact that the trends in Europe aren’t as clear as the trend in the U.S. As the Ukraine and U.N. cases illustrate, anti-Semitism is sometimes hyped or manufactured for political advantage. And in the U.S., the Kansas shooting is an outlier. But in some countries, the rate of anti-Semitic incidents is holding steady or even increasing. Each country is different.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 18 2014 6:52 PM Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters  Colorado Democrats and Republicans are testing theories for reaching women that will resonate far beyond the Rocky Mountains.  
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.