Spike in European anti-Semitism worries students who plan to study abroad

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By Adam Barry

The continued occurrence of crimes targeting Jews across Europe, including one in France earlier this month, has Jewish students planning to study abroad next spring worried.

The rape and robbery of a Jewish couple in a Parisian suburb on December 1 highlights concerns about the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe.

“The incidents definitely make me feel uncomfortable, especially if I am going to be presented with anti-Semitic activities while I am there,” said junior communications major Jake Bronstein, who will spend next semester in Madrid.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found evidence of crimes motivated by anti-Semitism in 26 European countries,including Spain, in 2013.

In November, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power spoke at a conference hosted by the OSCE and pressed the gathered European representatives to take a hard stand against these incidents.

In May, the victory of Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv over Spain’s Real Madrid in the Euroleague basketball tournament prompted over 18,000 anti-Semitic messages on Twitter, according to CNN.

A week later, a gunman who allegedly fought in the 2013 Syrian civil war killed four people, including two Israeli tourists, at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Mischael Modrikamen, the Jewish leader of a small political party in Belgium, blamed the attack on an “atmosphere of rampant anti-Semitism that often leads to violence.”

The continuing conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank seems to have sparked an uptick in incidents this year, according to USA Today.

Community Security Trust, a British watchdog group, reported a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in July of this year, when the Gaza conflict was most prominent in the news.

Pro-Palestinian rallies earlier this year in France included protesters who chanted “death to Jews” and other anti-Semitic statements, according to The New York Times.

Italy also had incidents where Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues have been targets of graffiti and vandalism.

Junior business management major Grant Cohen, who heads to Rome next semester, said that “it’s definitely something I thought about and will have to be aware of while I’m there,” he said.

Spain has had many issues with anti-Semitism in the past, the 2010 Report on Anti-Semitism in Spain, jointly produced by  the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain and the Movement Against Intolerance showed that over one-third of respondents had unfavorable opinions of Jews. A 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League ranked Spain as the third most anti-Semitic country in Europe.

Junior communications major Josh Levitan, who will spend the semester in Madrid, said the spread of anti-Semitic sentiments has become a concern for him as he considers trips across Europe during his breaks.

“I’m not too scared, but it is definitely something I will think about before I go traveling,” he said.

 

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