Jewish people in Belgium feel that their quality of life is the worst of 12 European countries, a study by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the British Institute of Jewish Policy Research reveals.
The study analysed national policies on combating anti-Semitism, the security of the Jewish community and religious freedom. It considered the performance of governments based on the sense of security among European Jews, the number of antisemitic incidents committed in countries as well as the percentage of the population with negative views against Jews or Israel.
"The goal with this report is to take the excellent data we already have about how Jewish people feel, about how prevalent anti-Semitism is, and combine it with government policy measurables," said the author of the study Daniel Staetsky during a conference held by the European Jewish Association in Budapest.
The results may challenge preconceptions about which EU countries are most hospitable to Jewish people, he added. For instance, Germany scored high when it came to government policies relating to Jewish people, but the community living in the country still report a weak sense of security, leading to an overall moderate score.
Belgium at the bottom of the rankings.
Belgium, Poland and France have the lowest scores with 60, 66, and 68 points out of 100, respectively – putting Belgium at the bottom of the rankings for government actions.
Growing antisemitism is to blame, as one in four Belgians is prone to discriminate against Jewish people, according to a 2021 Ipsos survey. Their feelings of insecurity in Belgium are also aggravated by the terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014.
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Still, of the 12 countries analysed, all countries – including Belgium – scored above 60. "There is not a single country in the 'red zone' that would indicate a tangible danger for the life of the Jewish community in the near future," said the EJA.
The countries where people belonging to the European Jewish community feel most secure are Denmark, Hungary, Italy and Austria. Hungary came in first place for security matters, with the lowest number of Jewish victims of anti-Semitic attacks.
Governments that rank highest for their policies towards Jewish communities were Germany, Austria and France. The latter country, however, remains marked by anti-Semitism, despite its actions in favour of the Jewish community.
According to the report, the most frequent anti-Semitic acts included vandalism, wrecking, graffitiing, desecration of graves, and propaganda. Physical and verbal aggression accounted for one-third of the acts reported.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on social media have increased, and anti-Semitic symbols have been used to demonstrate against coronavirus-related health measures.