In the latest case of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, two elderly Holocaust survivors in the Netherlands were brutally beaten and robbed. The assailants, reportedly of Middle Eastern descent, called the couple "dirty Jews" and injured them so badly that the couple is now confined to wheelchairs.
Anti-Semitism has been rising across Europe. This incident, as well as many others in recent years, only serves to buttress the newly released results of a survey conducted by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), showing that a large majority of European Jews choose not to reveal their religion in public.
Approximately 70 percent of European Jews avoid revealing their Jewish faith, according to the survey, which examined 179 Jewish communities in Western and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, more than 85 percent of European Jews choose not to bring their children to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, fearing anti-Semitic harassment or violence.
"Rabbis and community leaders from all over Europe report that more and more Jews refrain form publicly identifying with Jewish," said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association.
Margolin also emphasized that European leaders have vowed to continue fighting the rise of anti-Semitic incidents across their continent. French President Francois Hollande has pledged to combat “against all words and acts of an anti-Semitic nature, and to allow everyone to live together, without exception, with the same values of freedom, tolerance, and community.” Austrian President Heinz K. Fischer expressed his support for “the common interest of Jews in Europe," while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel affirmed his “excellent relationship with the Jewish community in Belgium." Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called anti-Semitism a "scourge" that "affects Jewish communities first, but in essence it is a threat to society as a whole."
Well-known Jewish journalist Jeffrey Goldberg explained in the The Atlantic in April that the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe "is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years."
"The previously canonical strain of European anti-Semitism, the fascist variant, still flourishes in places...But what makes this new era of anti-Semitic violence in Europe different from previous ones is that traditional Western patterns of anti-Semitic thought have now merged with a potent strain of Muslim Judeophobia. Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europe’s Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1," Goldberg wrote.
His point is particularly noteworthy now, as European Union nations are grappling with a major influx of refugees from the Middle East. The European Jewish Congress (EJC) said EU governments should enact tougher punishments against those who perpetuate hate crimes.
“Europe is rightly talking a lot about the lessons learnt from the Second World War in relation to the refugee crisis,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC, said. “However, another lesson is that when Jews are beaten in broad daylight on our streets and in homes, then European tolerance is clearly on the wane.”
“Unfortunately, as usual, the Jews, unwillingly, act as a canary in the coal mine for Europe and these attacks are demonstrating once again that Jews are made to feel unsafe around the continent," he added.