A disproportionate number of perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in Western Europe are "individuals of Muslim background," a rigorous new study shows.
Johannes Due Enstad authored the study, "Antisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015," jointly published this month by the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities and Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo. The report systematically compares anti-Semitic violence in various countries, relying on incident data compiled from police reports and a 2012 survey on anti-Semitism carried out by the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).
The study examines seven countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany. Among respondents within these four countries, victims of anti-Semitic violence and threats "most often perceived the perpetrator(s) to be 'someone with a Muslim extremist view'." France experiences the highest level of violent anti-Semitic incidents in the broader sample.
From "Antisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015", p 17
"It is also worth noting that in France, Sweden and the UK (but not in Germany) the perpetrator was perceived to be left-wing more often than right-wing," the study's author finds.
As opposed to the Western European experience, right-wing extremists exclusively perpetrate reported incidents of violent anti-Semitism in Russia, despite hosting Europe's biggest Muslim population and a relatively large Jewish constituency. These stark differences suggest that it is important to differentiate between particular Muslim communities and radicalization processes across Europe.
"Country of origin appears to play a major role, as does the level of religiosity—the more religious people are, the more anti-Semitic they are likely to be," the study concludes.
The study also shows that while there is a marked increase in anti-Semitic violence associated with major episodes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not all surges in Middle East tensions lead to more attacks against Jews in Europe. Though events in the Middle East may offer opportunities for potential violent offenders to lash out, the study's author argues that "anti-Semitic attitudes and violence propensity are likely necessary conditions to trigger such attacks."
With Muslim perpetrators conducting the bulk of anti-Semitic violence across Western Europe, it is no surprise that the report also finds that Muslims in the region maintain significantly higher levels of anti-Semitic attitudes compared to the general population. This finding has been corroborated by several recent studies focusing on anti-Semitism among Europe's Muslim communities.
For example, the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP) published a study in 2015 showing that Muslims have been responsible for a "disproportionate" number of anti-Semitic attacks and incidents in Europe over the last 15 years.
That study examined several surveys related to European Muslim attitudes conducted since 2006 and compares results from various European countries, with an emphasis on the United Kingdom and France. Most of those surveys focused on respondents' views toward Jewish stereotypes, asking subjects whether they agree with statements such as, "the Jews have too much power in politics" and "the Jews have too much power in the media." In each country under study, the number of Muslims agreeing with those anti-Semitic statements far exceeded that of non-Muslims.
Though the ISGAP report acknowledged that surveys comparing Muslim and non-Muslim beliefs are subject to criticism, "the sum of available studies to date provides strong evidence that the level of anti-Semitism is indeed particularly high among Muslims."