On the first day of its Annual Conference held in Budapest on 20-21 June, gathering leaders of Jewish communities in Europe, the EJA unveiled its new survey which weighs the well-being of European Jews. The comprehensive study conducted in the last two years in cooperation with the British Institute of Jewish Policy Research was presented during a press conference on Monday.
The study, observing 12 countries where most Jews live in Europe, examined not just public attitudes to Jews and Israel or the Jewish sense of security but also assessed the performance of governments by their measures taken to support and protect Jewish life and identity. It includes the government’s effort to fight against anti-Semitism, security measures to protect Jewish communities, cultivating Jewish culture, and even how a state votes regarding Israel at the UN.
‘The aim of the study is not to clash with this or that government and certainly not to embarrass or campaign against this or that government but to create a comparative scientific infrastructure on the quality of Jewish life in various European countries and allow community leaders and government heads to know what practical steps are needed to overcome the challenges together’, highlighted EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin
What Do the Numbers Reveal?
Hungarian Jews are the less affected by any form of antisemitism
After Denmark, Hungary is considered the safest place among the twelve European countries that were observed. Italy, Austria, and Spain are also ranked at the top of the chart while Germany, Belgium, and France are said to be the least safe by the local Jewry. According to their experiences in the last years, Hungarian Jews are also the less affected by any form of antisemitism. Italy and the UK are ranked second and third whilst the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium are listed last in this regard. Although, Hungary is ranked among the last when it comes to public attitudes to Jews and Israel it still means a high score (83 out of 100).
Hungary is also among those best-performed countries where there is no political-social interference or serious public debate regarding the practice of Jewish traditions such as “brit mila” (circumcision) or “shechita” (kosher slaughter).
When the survey measured government performance in support and protection of Jewish communities, they considered things like the existence of a government budget to support Jewish culture and education; how the government is tackling anti-Semitism (including definition and monitoring), is there an appropriate Holocaust remembrance educational plan in the country and how many times has the country voted in the United Nations General Assembly in favor of Israel?
These previously mentioned statistics were used to produce a comprehensive country index in which Italy, Hungary, Denmark, the UK, and Austria ended up in the highest category scoring 75 or more out of 100. The positive thing is that of all 12 countries surveyed, they all score above 60 indicating that there is not a single country in the “red zone” which would mean a tangible danger to the life of the Jewish community in the near term, emphasised Rabbi Margolin.
In his opening speech of the conference Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Zsolt Semjén said that ‘Hungary has zero-tolerance toward antisemitism. Teaching about the Holocaust is part of the curriculum of our schools and Holocaust denial is unacceptable in the country.’
Speaking about Israel, Deputy PM Semjén said that ‘We don’t like double standards and we see that some EU members quite often adopt a double standards policy when it comes to Israel.’ As a closure, Mr. Semjén reaffirmed that Israel and the Jewish community can count on Hungary’s continued support to veto such double standards proposals in the EU and the UN.
‘Over the past few years, Hungarian Jews have felt the situation improve, and we are glad to see that the EJA study supports our feelings’
Rabbi Shlomo Köves, Chief Rabbi of Associations of Hungarian Jewish Communities (EMIH), a Hungarian partner of the EJA noted: ‘This study uniquely combines various data that represents not just the level of antisemitic views among the population, but also the amount of violence against Jews. Over the past few years, Hungarian Jews have felt the situation improve, and we are glad to see that the EJA study supports our feelings. The Jewish community and the government are working hand in hand to improve the negative attitudes and opinions in the Hungarian society at large towards Jews.’
At the conference’s gala eve, appreciating the efforts of the Hungarian government Minister of the Interior of Hungary Mr. Sándor Pintér received the prestigious King David Award for his long-time support to Jewish communities in Hungary and throughout Europe.