Yesterday, we reported on the alarming anti-Semitism faced by the United Kingdom’s Jews. But, as recent terror attacks have shown and as USA Today’s Maya Vidon and Katharina Wecker report, the rest of Europe is just as affected by the growing rash of Islamist terrorism:
Though Jewish communities across Europe have been growing and thriving, the atmosphere remains tense in France and Denmark, two nations rattled by recent deadly attacks aimed at Jewish facilities.
France has Europe’s largest Jewish population, about a half-million people, and has experienced rising anti-Semitism the past few years.
In the wake of January’s mass killings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris, many French Jews fear for their safety. A record 7,000 French Jews moved to Israel last year — double that of the previous year.
Jewish children in particular “are the victims of all sorts of attacks,” said Catherine Nicault, professor emeritus in contemporary history at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in northeast France.
“Unfortunately, the children suffer from hate and anti-Semitism in public schools, and that’s why, more and more, they take refuge in Jewish schools,” said Shlomo Katz, who teaches at a yeshiva in Paris. “The problem is that these Jewish schools are the target of anti-Semitic attacks and must be constantly under surveillance.”
About 10,000 soldiers and police have been protecting Jewish schools, synagogues and cultural centers in France since the attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to move to Israel is being rebuffed by many.
“I do think very strongly that fear of anti-Semitism and terrorism is not reason enough to move to Israel,” said Tamar Shiloh, an Israeli journalist who moved to France to marry a Jewish Frenchman more than 10 years ago. “There is insecurity in Israel, too. There might be no anti-Semitism like in France, but there are other kinds of tension.”
In Denmark, the community of 6,400 Jews has been shrinking but has long felt safe, until now. The community is tense after a deadly attack in February by a gunman at a free speech event and on a Jewish guard killed outside a synagogue in Copenhagen. The suspect died in a shootout with police.
“The Danish population is very positive toward the Jewish community, and we received a lot of nice words” after the attack, said Finn Schwarz, former president of the Jewish Community Center in Copenhagen. “But I think that we will see parents who are afraid to send their children to Jewish schools because of the security situation.”