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Date: 2021
Abstract: Overt state-sponsored antisemitism ended in Europe with the fall of the Soviet Union. Antisemitic attitudes, however, remain prevalent in Europe, and some European political actors have instrumentalized antisemitism for political gain. This report examines both the conscious use of antisemitism in European politics and the calculated tolerance of antisemitism, demonstrating that the oldest hatred remains a modern political tool.

Unlike antisemitic incidents of violence, vandalism, or insults, the political use of antisemitism does not target Jews themselves. Instead, antisemitic propaganda targets domestic or foreign audiences as a means of gaining political support. Demonstrating tolerance for antisemitism is another tactic of attracting political support. Polling data shows that these strategies have a rational basis. ADL’s 2019 Global 100 survey of antisemitic attitudes found that one in four Europeans polled harbored antisemitic beliefs.

Antisemitic propaganda has as its goal to energize and attract followers. Antisemitic propaganda is also used to tarnish political opponents in the eyes of a specific audience by intimating that someone is Jewish, supportive of Jewish causes or of the State of Israel. Other times, political opponents are slandered as antisemites or Nazis to diminish their reputations with specific audiences. Each of these techniques will be covered in this report, which focuses on the conscious choice of instrumentalizing or tolerating antisemitism for political gain. Antisemitic rhetoric by political actors as an indicator of bias is a much broader topic, and this report does not cover those instances.

The broad categories of the politicization of antisemitism include (1) politically motivated accusations of, or uses of, antisemitism against political opponents; (2) political appeals to antisemitic beliefs among the public, including the conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government, economy, media; and (3) tolerance of antisemitism within political movements as a strategy for increasing popular support. This list not exhaustive of the political instrumentalization of antisemitism, but this report provides illustrative examples from recent years in these broad categories.

Why is this report important? While violent antisemitic attacks receive wide publicity – and rightly so – the politicization of antisemitism can also severely impact Jewish communities. The British Jewish community provides a compelling example.

In January 2015, 11% of British Jews were considering emigrating, according to a poll by the UK’s Jewish Chronicle. That survey was conducted before Jeremy Corbyn, widely regarded within the British Jewish community as an antisemite himself, was even a leadership candidate for the Labour party. In September 2018, after antisemitism had become a serious problem in the Labour party under Corbyn, the Jewish Chronicle poll found that 39% of British Jews were considering emigrating. And in an October 2019 poll by the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council, just prior to the UK General Election, 47% of British Jews said they would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the election.

Had Jeremy Corbyn won, leading a major party widely recognized as tolerating antisemitism among its members, and had even 30% of British Jews emigrated as a result of that single event, that number of roughly 90,000 Jews would have been similar to the total of all the French Jews who left France over the past 20 years.

The sections below are select examples of the different ways in which antisemitism has been instrumentalized for political gain by various actors. The purposes and tactics vary substantially, but have the common element of politicizing antisemitism:

The Russian government instrumentalized antisemitism in the forms of propaganda and “false flag” operations to influence domestic and foreign public opinion in its conflict with Ukraine.
Polish political campaigns used overt antisemitic rhetoric during elections to win votes.
The Hungarian government used coded antisemitism in political campaigns against EU migration policies.
The UK Labour party consciously tolerated antisemitism to widen its political support from far-left radicals.
Ukrainian nationalists glorified World War II era fighters to promote nationalist narratives, while trivializing their involvement in the Holocaust.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party trivialized the Holocaust as part of their appeal to “Holocaust fatigue” among German voters.
Other political actors have engaged in similar acts of politicization, and their absence from this report is not indicative of any assessment. The cases below are simply the most blatant examples of the types of politicization to be highlighted.
Date: 2012
Abstract: Paideia - the European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden was created in 2000 as an academic and applied institute of excellence, with the mandate of working for the rebuilding of Jewish life and culture in Europe, and educating for active minority citizenship. It does this through offering an intensive one-year educational program in Jewish Studies directed at future leaders of Jewish life and inter-cultural work. Each year 20-25 participants attend the program, from both Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds and a variety of European countries. In addition to the one-year Jewish Studies Program, Paideia has also developed activities for its graduates including alumni conferences, educational weekends and Project-Incubator, a two-week summer program to support projects and social innovation across Europe. Project-Incubator was introduced as a follow-up program for alumni, but has expanded its target group beyond graduates. Since its introduction in 2006, the program has developed over 100 different projects. After several years of activity, Paideia decided to conduct an evaluation study to provide a systematic overview of the program's contributions and achievements, and identify unmet needs. The evaluation comprised a follow-up study of all graduates from 2002-2009. This reportpresents the findings of that study. The study findings showed that graduates view the Paideia program as very successful and feel that it contributed to them to a great extent. It was found that all graduates continue to be involved in Jewish activities in their countries of residence. Most report that the program has had an important impact on their professional-life career, on their pursuit of Jewish Studies and on their involvement in Jewish community activities.
Date: 2020
Date: 2017
Abstract: How is the Holocaust taught in schools? How do students make sense of this challenging subject? How are people affected by visits to Holocaust memorial sites?

Empirical research on teaching and learning about the Holocaust that tackles these and other questions has grown rapidly over the past fifteen years, a period marked by the professionalization and expansion of the field. In 2013, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) decided to carry out a study to establish a picture of this emerging field of research. A multilingual expert team mandated to collect and review research in fifteen languages identified nearly 400 studies resulting in more than 600 publications. Three years of work resulted in the book "Research in Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust: A Dialogue Beyond Borders" (March 2017), which carries the field beyond anecdotal reflections and moral arguments.

Download a pdf copy of the publication

This systematic review includes research conducted in most IHRA Member Countries as well as several non-member countries. The multilingual focus of the project enables cross-cultural analyses and the transfer of knowledge between various regions and countries. The book’s two parts present the research first by language and then by selected themes. This innovative transnational, trans-lingual study reflects IHRA’s core mission: to shape and advance teaching and learning about the Holocaust worldwide.

The second outcome is a set of bibliographies in fifteen languages. These bibliographies comprise references to empirical research on teaching and learning about the Holocaust. They also include abstracts or summaries of most of publications. Each bibliography includes research from a single language or related group of languages (both geographically related or linguistically related).
Author(s): Pearce, Andy
Date: 2013
Abstract: At the time of writing, two major landmarks have occurred in what might be called the history of the ‘afterlife of Holocaust memory’ in Britain.1 Most recently, the beginning of a new academic year in schools and colleges in England and Wales brought the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the National Curriculum — an event of immense significance in relation to Holocaust education in the United Kingdom. Whereas previously the presence of the Holocaust in educational curricula varied considerably, the incorporation of the genocide into the statutory content for the first National Curriculum for History in 1991 ensured that school history would become a core conduit in the expansion of knowledge and awareness among a new generation of young people. Beyond the chalkface, the other noteworthy anniversary of 2011 took place on 27 January when Britain held its tenth annual Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). A day which ‘provides an opportunity for everyone to learn the lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future’, HMD speaks to and of a process of heightened insti-tutionalisation which began in earnest at the turn of the millennium and has continued unabated since.2 HMD thus provides an illuminating window onto the preconceptions, priorities and politics which currently envelop and influence the shape of memorialisation in Britain, but it also does much more than this: as one of the first such days to be created in Western Europe following the Stockholm Declaration of 2000, Britain’s HMD also gestures to a gamut of issues related to memorialisation in general and Holocaust memory in the contemporary world in particular. Amongst others, these include the practices and procedures of collective remembrance, the forces behind a ‘turning’ to memory in the postmodern epoch, and the rationale for (and consequences of) the emergence of the Holocaust as a global phenomena in the past quarter of a century.
Author(s): Kahn-Harris, Keith
Date: 2020
Abstract: Since 2014, JPR's European Jewish Research Archive (EJRA) has consolidated social research on post-1990 European Jewish populations within one single, freely available, online resource. EJRA is designed to be a service to community leaders, policymakers and researchers, as well as a resource to help inform the European Jewish research agenda going forward.

Drawing on an innovative methodology, this report presents a detailed statistical analysis of EJRA's holdings. Through this analysis, we are able to pinpoint specific strengths and weaknesses in social research coverage of particular issues in particular countries.

The report finds a clear increase in the research coverage of European Jewish populations since 1990. The amount of coverage in each country is broadly in line with the size of each country’s Jewish population. The majority of the research is produced by researchers whose work is not confined to this field, with a small ‘core' of committed Jewishly-focused researchers. Academia provides the primary base for researchers, but there has been a significant increase in recent years in research reports produced by non-academic institutions, particularly those concerned with monitoring antisemitism.

Approximately 20% of EJRA items concern antisemitism and this proportion has more than trebled since 1990. Research on ‘living’ Jewish communities - as opposed to research on antisemitism and Holocaust remembrance - is far less developed in countries with small Jewish populations. At 8% of the collection, Jewish education appears to be underdeveloped in all European countries with the exception of the UK.

Drawing on the research findings, the report goes on to raise questions regarding possible strategic priorities for European Jewish research for discussion by researchers and organisations that sponsor research. In particular, we ask how and whether research across Europe could be better coordinated and what countries and topics require further support to develop a stronger research infrastructure.
Date: 2020
Abstract: This study, the first to assess mortality among Jews around the world during the COVID-19 crisis, draws on data from a wide variety of sources to understand the extent to which Jews were affected by coronavirus in different parts of the world during the first wave of the pandemic, March to May 2020.

The first section describes the methods of quantification of COVID-19 mortality, and explains why measuring it using the excess mortality method is the most effective way to understand how Jewish communities have been affected. The second section presents data on Jewish mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, drawing particularly on data provided to JPR by Jewish burial societies in communities all over the world. It does so in a comparative perspective, setting the data on Jews alongside the data on non-Jews, to explore both the extent to which Jews have been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, and how the Jewish experience with COVID-19 compares to the experience of non-Jewish populations.

The immediate impression is that there is not a single ‘Jewish pattern’ that is observable everywhere, and, with respect to the presence of excess mortality, Jewish communities, by and large, followed the populations surrounding them.

The report cautions against speculation about why Jews were disproportionately affected in some places, but rule out two candidate explanations: that Jewish populations with particularly elderly age profiles were hardest hit, or that Jews have been badly affected due to any underlying health issue common among them. They consider the possibility that Jewish lifestyle effects (e.g. above average size families, convening in large groups for Jewish rituals and holidays), may have been an important factor in certain instances, noting that these are unambiguous risk factors in the context of communicable diseases. Whilst they suggest that the spread of the virus among Jews “may have been enhanced by intense social contact,” they argue that without accurate quantification, this explanation for elevated mortality in certain places remains unproven.

The report also includes a strongly worded preface from Hebrew University Professor Sergio DellaPergola, the Chair of the JPR European Jewish Demography Unit, and the world’s leading expert in Jewish demography. In it, he stresses the importance of systematically testing representative samples of the population at the national and local levels, and, in Jewish community contexts, of routinely gathering Jewish population vital statistics. He states: “If there is one lesson for Jewish community research that emerges out of this crisis it is that the routine gathering of vital statistics – the monitoring of deaths, as well as births, marriages, divorces, conversions, immigrants and emigrants – is one of the fundamental responsibilities community bodies must take.”
Author(s): Ben-Moshe, Danny
Date: 2015
Date: 2020
Abstract: This detailed and thorough report is rapidly becoming the ‘must-read’ study on European Jews, taking the reader on an extraordinary journey through one thousand years of European Jewish history before arriving at the most comprehensive analysis of European Jewish demography today.

Written by leading Jewish demographers Professor Sergio DellaPergola and Dr Daniel Staetsky, the Chair and Director of JPR’s European Jewish Demography Unit respectively, it explores how the European Jewish population has ebbed and flowed over time. It begins as far back as the twelfth century, travelling through many years of population stability, until the tremendous growth of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, followed by the dramatic decline prompted by a combination of mass migration and the horrors of the Shoah. Extraordinarily, after all this time, the proportion of world Jewry living in Europe today is almost identical to the proportion living in Europe 900 years ago.

Using multiple definitions of Jewishness and a vast array of sources to determine the size of the contemporary population, the study proceeds to measure it in multiple ways, looking at the major blocs of the European Union and the European countries of the Former Soviet Union, as well as providing country-by-country analyses, ranging from major centres such as France, the UK, Germany and Hungary, to tiny territories such as Gibraltar, Monaco and even the Holy See.

The report also contains the most up-to-date analysis we have on the key mechanisms of demographic change in Europe, touching variously on patterns of migration in and out of Europe, fertility, intermarriage, conversion and age compositions. While the report itself is a fascinating and important read, the underlying data are essential tools for the JPR team to utilise as it supports Jewish organisations across the continent to plan for the future.