State Dept. report on religious freedom cites rise in European anti-Semitism

U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Rabbi David Saperstein. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( The U.S. State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom, released on Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Rabbi David Saperstein, describes that anti-Semitism continues “to be a major problem around the globe with increases in anti-Semitic incidents recorded in many countries.”

In particular, European countries such as France and Germany have experienced a rise in anti-Israel sentiment that often crossed over into anti-Semitism during the summer of 2014. Saperstein told the Jerusalem Post that the difference between legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism lies in holding Israel “to different standards than it would hold any other country.”

“Where it has often crossed the line is when groups try to argue that Israel is an inherently illegal state and doesn’t have a right to exist as a Jewish state here and takes actions to delegitimize those fundamental rights,” he said.

According to the report, there has been a 101-percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in France, including “numerous cases of physical violence against the Jewish community where individuals were targeted and beaten and synagogues were fire bombed.”

But there has also been a positive response to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the report said.

“After the February 14-15 terrorist attacks in Denmark that killed a guard outside a synagogue and a filmmaker at a free speech event, thousands of people of different faiths formed a human ring outside the synagogue in Copenhagen to ‘send a powerful statement’ that ‘Jews should be able to have their religion in peace.’ Swedes and Norwegians also formed a human ring around their capitals’ main synagogues in an inter-faith show of support,” stated the report.

Posted on October 15, 2015 .