Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism

This FRA survey is the first-ever to collect comparable data on Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, hate-motivated crime and discrimination across a number of EU Member States, specifically in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Its findings reveal a worrying level of discrimination, particularly in employment and education, a widespread fear of victimisation and heightening concern about antisemitism online.

Antisemitism casts a long shadow on Jewish people’s chances to enjoy their legally guaranteed rights to human dignity, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and non-discrimination. The daily insults, discrimination, harassment and even physical violence, with which Jewish people across the European Union (EU) must contend, show few signs of abating, despite EU and EU Member States’ best efforts. Nevertheless, little information exists on the extent and nature of antisemitic crimes to guide policy makers seeking to effectively fight these crimes. By shining light on crimes that all too often remain unreported and therefore invisible, this FRA report seeks to help put an end to them.

Findings Q and A

This is a brief overview of some of the findings. The key findings with relevant graphs and opinions are contained in the survey report

1. Why and how was the survey carried out?

Antisemitism stems from old and deep-rooted prejudices against Jews, which have persisted to the present day and which may lead to incidents of antisemitic violence, harassment and hate speech. Many of these incidents remain unreported. Only 13 of the 28 EU Member States collect official data on antisemitic incidents reported to the police or processed through the criminal justice system.

FRA designed this survey to collect, for the first time, comparable data on antisemitic violence, harassment and hate speech to help tackle antisemitism today. The findings in the survey report compile the results from eight survey countries, which account for some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the European Union. The results are based on the responses from 5,847 self-identified Jewish respondents (aged 16 or over) living in one of eight EU Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Due to the sample size, the country results for Romania, one of the countries where the survey was carried out, are not included in the analysis of the survey results. However, the results from Romania are summarised in the report’s annex.

FRA designed the survey. The survey was carried out online from September to October 2012 - under contract to FRA following an open call for tender – by Ipsos MORI in partnership with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in the UK. It was available in the languages of the survey countries, as well as Hebew and Russian.

The online survey mode was selected in consultation with experts in surveying Jewish people in Europe because of the sensitivity of the topic. The online method also allowed all interested self-identified Jewish people in the survey countries to potentially take part and share their experiences. In addition, it was the method which could be easily used to cover all selected countries equally.

2. What questions did the survey ask?

The survey asked respondents for their opinions and perceptions on antisemitic trends and antisemitism as a problem in everyday life. The respondents were also asked to describe their personal experiences of antisemitic incidents, witnessing antisemitic incidents and worrying about being a victim of an antisemitic attack (affecting their personal safety, safety of children, or other family members and friends). The survey also provides data on whether the occurrence of antisemitic acts against the Jewish community, such as vandalism of Jewish sites or antisemitic messages in the broadcast media or in the internet, is considered to be a problem in their countries by the Jewish respondents.

In addition, the survey collected socio-demographic data, such as respondents’ gender and age, educational background, employment status, and income.

3. How common do respondents consider antisemitism to be?

A majority of respondents (66%) consider antisemitism to be a problem across the EU Member States surveyed. On average three out of four respondents (76%) also believe that the situation has become more acute and that antisemitism has increased in their country over the past five years. Overall, 75% of respondents consider antisemitism online to be a problem.

4. How common is antisemitic hate crime in the EU?

One in five respondents (21%) had personally experienced at least one incident of antisemitic verbal insult or harassment, and/or a physical attack in the year before the survey. The respondents were also asked about incidents that affected them indirectly – through witnessing other Jews being verbally insulted, harrased or physically attacked, for example. The highest levels of antisemitic incidents that affected respondents indirectly, were found in Hungary (43%), Belgium (35%) and France (30%). Respondents were also asked about the forms of harassment that they encountered. Offensive comments – either in person or on the internet – were the most widespread form of harassment.

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by respondents as being perceived as someone with Muslim extremist views (27%), left-wing political views (22%), or with right-wing views (19%).

Overall, 4% of respondents experienced physical attack or threats of violence in the year before the survey because they were Jewish.

According to the findings, 76% of respondents who in the past five years experienced harassment, 64% of those who experienced physical attacks or threats of violence and 53% of those who experienced vandalism of personal property did not report these incidents to the police or any other organisation – including in those countries that do officially collect such figures. Similar patterns emerge from FRA’s work with other groups (such as LGBT peopleminorities and migrants).

FRA data collection work on antisemitism over recent years also shows that only 13 EU Member States have official data and statistics on antisemitic incidents. Where data exist, they are not comparable, since they are collected using different definitions and methodologies. Furthermore, in many EU Member States Jewish organisations or other civil society organisations do not systematically collect data on antisemitic incidents.

Facing facts!, a joint project whose main objective is to improve monitoring and recording of hate crimes and incidents throughout the EU, has published hate crime monitoring guidelines.

5. How safe do Jewish people feel?

Close to half of all respondents (46%) worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place while one third (33%) worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. Worry that these attacks may happen to family members or people close to them is somewhat higher than the worry about personal victimisation. 66% of parents or grandparents of school-aged children worry that their children could be subjected to antisemitic verbal insults or harassment at school or on the way there, and 52% worry that their children will suffer a physical antisemitic attack.

6. How common is antisemitic discrimination in the EU?

23% of all respondents reported having experienced some form of discrimination on the ground of their religion or ethnic background in the past 12 months. In all countries, antisemitic discrimination most often happened at work (11%), when looking for work (10%), or at school or in training (8%).

Most of those who felt discriminated against because they were Jewish did not report their most serious incident of discrimination to any authority or organisation (82%). When asked why not, 57% said that nothing would have changed by reporting; a finding similar to other FRA studies.

7. How do Jewish people feel treated by society?

Around a fifth (23%) said that they occasionally avoid visiting Jewish events or sites because they do not feel safe there or on the way there because they are Jewish. Just over a quarter (27%) occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish, with the highest proportions found in Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%) and France (35%).

One in ten respondents (11%) has either moved or considered moving out of their neighbourhood in the past five years due to concerns for their safety as Jews. Such concern led close to one third (29%) to consider at some point emigrating. This particularly applied to respondents in Hungary, France, and Belgium (48%, 46%, and 40% respectively).

The prohibition of traditional Jewish practices would be a big problem for a majority of all respondents (76% saw prohibition of circumcision as a problem, 58% said the same about traditional slaughter).

8. What can be done to tackle antisemitism?

  • To ensure that antisemitic discrimination and hate crime are addressed in a systematic and coordinated way, the EU and its Member States should make sure that measures to combat antisemitism are integrated in national strategies and action plans across relevant areas.
  • Member States should ensure that intentionally publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are punishable.
  • Politicians and opinion makers should refrain from antisemitic statements, and they should clearly renounce and condemn such statements when made by others.
  • Member States are encouraged to support trade unions and employers’ associations in their efforts to adopt diversity and non-discrimination policies, including accommodating Jewish people’s needs in the workplace – for example through flexible holiday arrangements, where possible.
  • In addition, Member States should facilitate cooperation between Equality Bodies and Jewish community organisations to ensure that Jewish people who face discrimination are informed about their rights and available redress mechanisms.
  • The EU and its Member States should identify effective ways and good practices to address the growing concern on online antisemitism. Member States should explore the option of establishing specialised police units that monitor and investigate hate crime on the internet, as well as measures to encourage users to report to the police whenever they detect antisemitic content.
  • To tackle underreporting there is a need to encourage and help victims make reports to the police. EU, Member States, and local authorities, should set up or increase concrete awareness-raising activities to support victims of hate-motivated crime and discrimination to report them.
  • When crimes have an antisemitic motive, Member States should ensure that this motive is recorded appropriately and taken into account in sentencing, including enhanced penalties. In addition, training needs to be set up in Member States to ensure systematic recording of incidents. Practices such as ‘third party reporting’ where civil society organisations, for example, report on the behalf of victims, could also be considered.

​9. Other related FRA work

FRA has been working on antisemitism since 2007:

The results are visualised online and contained in the following reports:

- Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism
Survey methodology, sample and questionnaire – Technical report
– Antisemitism - Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2002-2012

See also FRA’s work on racism and related intolerances and hate crime.

For further information, please contact the FRA Media Team:

Email: media@fra.europa.eu / Tel.: +43 1 58030-858

Methodology Q and A

This is a brief overview of how the FRA survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States was carried out. More detailed information can be found in the Technical Report

1. Who were the survey respondents?

In total, 5,847 Jewish respondents filled in the questionnaire from 8 EU Member States:

EU Member States Respondents EU Member States Respondents















United Kingdom


In terms of socio-demographic characteristics the respondents can be broken down as:

    % Number






















No higher education



Higher education



A further breakdown is available in the technical report.

2. Why, when and how was the survey carried out?

Policy makers lack data when trying to effectively prevent antisemitic crimes and protect potential victims. They need detailed information on the extent and nature of antisemitic offences. Only 13 out of 28 EU Member States collect administrative data on antisemitic crime. However, as countries differ in their approach to data collection, national data are often not comparable.

FRA’s survey is the first to collect comparable data on Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, hate-motivated crime and discrimination across a number of EU Member States.

The survey sought the views of self-identifying Jewish people living in the survey countries. This was irrespective of whether or not they perceive antisemitism as a major problem, or have directly witnessed or experienced an antisemitic incident. In this way, the report draws a detailed and sophisticated portrait of contemporary antisemitism across Europe, as it is both perceived and experienced by Jews in selected EU Member States. It is the first such survey to provide comparable data on the perceived extent and nature of antisemitism across a number of EU Member States, whether it is manifested as hate crime, hate speech, discrimination or any other form that undermines Jewish people’s feelings of safety and security. The results will help support policy makers and other stakeholders in tackling discrimination and hate crime against Jews across the EU.

The survey report presents comparative results for eight EU Member States: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These Member States cover 90% of the Jews living in the EU. Data was also collected from Romania. However, due to the small number of responses received the results from Romania are not included in the main analysis – instead, an overview of the results for Romania is an annex in the results report. It is estimated that there are 1,027,100 Jews in the nine survey countries (the eight countries included in the comparative analysis plus Romania) compared to 1,109,000 in the entire EU.

The respondents were aged 16 years and over, who identified themselves as Jewish. The survey was made available online, from 3 September to 8 October 2012 in 11 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Romanian, Russian and Swedish. In total, 5,847 Jewish respondents filled in the questionnaire succesfully. FRA aimed to survey 4,500 Jews, or 500 per country. The largest samples were obtained from the two countries with the largest estimated Jewish communities: France and the United Kingdom.

The initial screening questions prevented 82% of the 18,332 respondents who started the survey from continuing. This was mainly because they lived in any other country than the 8 selected for the survey.

3. How representative are the results ?

Only internet access was needed to take part in the survey, ensuring all selected countries could be reached equally. The online survey methodology allowed all interested self-identified Jews in the survey countries to take part. However, it does not, deliver a random probability sample fulfilling the statistical criteria for representativeness. Although the results cannot be considered as representative of all Jewish people in the EU, they constitute by far the largest collection of empirical evidence on discrimination, hate crime and antisemitism against Jews in Europe to date.

4. Why was the survey conducted online?

This methodology was selected after consultation with key experts because it has particular advantages for the purpose of the survey. It was not possible to use random probability sampling because reasonable sampling frames for the entire Jewish population are not available in the selected EU Member States. To explore ways of improving the representativeness of online surveys, the data were collected in two stages. The first stage used respondent-driven sampling (RDS) but did not succeed in bringing in an adequate number of responses. RDS is a new statistical method that was developed to survey hard-to-reach groups of people – that is, groups that are small in number and geographically spread out, and for which there is little or no information that could be used for sampling purposes. It asks the people who are being surveyed to recruit other eligible people for the survey and then mathematically corrects (weighs) the figures to compensate for the lack of randomness when contacting the respondents. In the second stage, the online survey was open to all self-identifying Jews who were 16 year of age or older, and living in one of the selected EU Member States. This online survey guaranteed anonymity and confidientiality, and allowed a broader spectrum of the Jewish population to be reached compared with more traditional approaches.

5. How did the survey achieve participation of Jewish respondents?

In order to reach eligible respondents, awareness-raising activities both before and during the open online survey were carried out. In most Member States the response rates exceeded or were in line with expectations given the relative size of the Jewish population in each country. A ninth country, Romania, was originally selected to be covered in the survey. As Romania has a relatively small Jewish population and internet penetration is comparably low, extra efforts were made to boost responses rates. However, because of the low number of responses (67), the data obtained from Romania is summarised in an annex to the survey results report.
The online survey was therefore identified as the most appropriate methodology as Jewish populations tend to have high levels of internet access and are relatively well-educated. As respondents only needed an interet connection, respondents could participate in the survey when and where it was most convenient for them, limiting non-response due to inconvenient timing of interviews.

6. Could someone complete the survey multiple times to influence the results?

The length of the survey and time needed to complete it (on average 32 minutes), combined with the concentration and attention required for completion would discourage multiple responses from the same person. FRA deliberately allowed multiple survey responses from the same internet address (or Internet Protocol, IP), despite the risk of duplication. This protected confidentiality and anonymity, and encouraged participation from people without personal internet access (for example via internet cafés). All data were checked once the fieldwork was finished. To exclude data from anyone who might have completed the survey more than once, there was a checking process to calculate how similar each respondent’s answers were to other responses in the sample. The process revealed that very few respondents shared similar answer patterns. Overall, five respondents were removed from the dataset for various reasons. The research team concluded that similarities did not warrant removing any further cases than those five. 

7. Which topics were covered by the questionnaire and how was it prepared?

The survey collected data on the effects of antisemitism in respondents’ daily lives, their feelings of safety and any actions they may take in response to safety concerns. The questionnaire included questions about personal experiences of specific forms of harassment, vandalism and violence. It also collected data about personal experiences of discrimination against Jews on different grounds and in various areas of everyday life – for example at work, school or when using specific services. It explored the level of rights awareness regarding antidiscrimination legislation, victim support organisations and knowledge of any legislation concerning trivialisation or denial of the Holocaust.

When preparing the survey, FRA reviewed existing surveys on Jewish populations, and consulted with experts on Jewish community studies, and representatives of Jewish community organisations and policy makers. The desk research, and expert and stakeholder consultations, helped shape the choice of survey methodology and the topics covered.

8. Could non-Jewish people complete the survey?

In a survey, online or not, it is not possible to verify the authenticity of respondent’s answers. The survey aimed to identify what self-identifed Jewish people themselves think and experience. Therefore, the survey started with a self-identification question that allowed only those identifying themselves as Jewish to continue. Neverthless, a number of survey questions were also used to filter and secure the participation of Jewish people. As expected, the vast majority of drop-outs occurred at the first questions, mainly those who were curious but did not want to participate. Some did not meet the eligibility criteria (consider themselves Jewish or did not live in one of the EU Member States surveyed). Another parameter to check the reliability of the responses is by analysing the socio-demographic characteristics of the sample. More men (57%) than women (43%) took part in the survey, and contrary to many online surveys, 68% of the respondents are 45 years old or older, while the youngest age group (16-29 years) comprises 11% of respondents. These demographic characteristics are in line with survey awareness raising efforts and might reflect the ageing of Jewish population in the eight Member States.  

9. If the participation of Jewish people in the survey differed from country to country how can you ensure the results are comparable?

The number of respondents who filled in the survey questionnaire in the selected EU Member States roughly mirrors the size of the Jewish population in these countries. Before and during the data collection, awareness raising efforts took place in each of the countries to inform people about the survey and to encourage responses. By using the same data collection methodology and the same questionnaire – translated into eleven languages – FRA aimed to ensure comparability of the results.

10. How was the privacy, anonymity and confidentiality of respondents assured?

FRA took several measures to guarantee data security, privacy and confidentiality of the survey respondents. To ensure privacy, the survey did not collect personal details of individual respondents or their computers (such as IP address). Only information that was relevant to the topic, analysis of the data, and for administering the survey were collected. The web session during the time the online questionnaire was being filled in by a respondent was protected using high security internet protocols, with no option to access the survey in an unprotected insecure mode. The data collection and the analysis process were performed without reference to any personal or sensitive data capable of identifying people. This guaranteed full confidentiality of the information provided. Throughout the survey respondents had access to detailed information on how the data provided by them will be stored and processed.