European Jewish communities face increasing threats from antisemitism and challenges to religious practices which are basic to Jewish religious identity.  The underlying forces driving expressions of anti-Semitism and campaigns against religious freedom vary among countries but can be found across Europe.  Anti-Semitic attacks on individuals, synagogues, cemeteries and schools occur with disturbing frequency.  Of particular concern is the rise in violent incidents.  A recent European Union survey of Jewish communities reflected significant fear of physical assaults and extensive avoidance of wearing kippot or other items that identify one as Jewish out of concerns for personal security.

Ten years after the adoption by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of its landmark Berlin Declaration on Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic attitudes remain distressingly high in Europe.  The Anti-Defamation League’s 2012 poll found that nearly one-third subscribed to anti-Jewish notions such as Jews having too much power in business or being more loyal to Israel than their own country.  Expressions of Anti-Israel hatred remain a concern in Europe, and attempts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state using classic anti-Semitic motifs and tactics such as BDS are among the most common manifestations of anti-Semitism today.

Anti-Semitic political parties in parliaments have distressed Jewish communities.  In Hungary, a Jobbik representative called for a list of Jews in government to be made.  In Greece, members of parliament of Golden Dawn have denied the Holocaust and read from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in parliament.  Anti-Semitic parties have also been elected to parliament in Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Additionally, the freedom to exercise two Jewish rites – ritual circumcision of newborn males (brit milah) and kosher slaughter (shechita) – are being challenged. Bans on male circumcision by setting age and/or informed consent requirements have been proposed by political parties or elected or appointed government officials in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden.  Polls in the United Kingdom and Germany have shown significant public support for a ban on circumcision.  In October 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution which suggests ‘dialogue’ with religious leaders to ‘overcome’ the ancient Jewish tradition of circumcision and to adopt laws requiring a child’s consent.  De facto bans on shechita by requiring pre-stunning have been proposed by political parties or elected or appointed government officials in The Netherlands and Poland, and kosher slaughter remains illegal in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. 

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs believes that:

The community relations field should:


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