In many European countries, including France and Germany, the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed this year already exceeds the total for 2013. It would be an exaggeration to say that Europe is no longer hospitable to Jews. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel had good reason this week to publicly fret about “young Jewish parents who wonder whether they can raise their children in Germany.” Europe’s political climate is more hostile to Jews now than at any time since the second intifada.
Rising anti-Semitism among Europe’s Muslims is one reason for this change. Some protests against the latest war in Gaza, such as a recent march in Gelsenkirchen that culminated in calls of “Jews to the gas!” prominently featured anti-Semitic imagery or slogans. Others, such as the attack on a synagogue in Paris’ Maraisdistrict this past July, ended in outright violence.
But to claim that the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is the main culprit for the changed climate -- as the German journalist Jochen Bittner did this week in The New York Times -- is to pin the blame on a small minority while overlooking that anti-Semitism has also grown among the majority. According to a recent Pew Research Center study conducted in Germany, although around 6 percent of the population is Muslim, 25 percent of people readily express unfavorable views of Jews; meanwhile, in Spain, where less than 3 percent of the population is Muslim, close to 50 percent of the population do the same. Although levels of anti-Semitism may be higher among Muslims than among Christians, a European anti-Semite remains far more likely to be Christian than Muslim.
Tensions between Muslims and Jews are a real problem, and one that has been swept under the carpet for too long; but an even greater problem is the tendency of wily politicians to play Jews and Muslims against each other for purposes of their own. The real question of Europe’s future is not whether Muslim immigrants will learn to tolerate Jews, but whether, in