From 9.5 million in 1939, the number of European Jews has fallen to 1.4 million; and as anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in the continent, some speak of a new ‘exodus.’
The last several decades have seen a precipitous drop in the number of Jews living in Europe, according to a poll published Monday by the Pew Research Center
The report estimated that there were 3.2 million European Jews in 1960, which fell to 2 million by 1991, and to 1.4 million in recent years.
Emigration was particularly extensive in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. An estimated 3.4 million Jews lived in the European USSR in 1939. Following the catastrophic population decrease resulting from the Holocaust, the number was reduced to 2 million.
But emigration since 1945 has left 310,000 Jewish inhabitants. In Eastern European countries, the 4.7 million-strong Jewish community has dwindled to less than 100,000.
The report noted that while most of decline can be attributed to emigration to Israel, intermarriage and assimilation could also be factors.
Meanwhile, the decline appeared to be less severe in some Western European countries, whose Jewish population in 1939 was relatively smaller to begin with. About the same number of Jews live in France today as in 1939, while the number of Jews in the United Kingdom has dropped from 345,000 to 280,000.
However, the report noted recent reports of increased emigration from France, as well as new report showing a record level of anti-Semitism in the UK.
The report said 10 percent of the world’s Jews live in Europe, down from 57 percent in 1939 and 35 percent in 1945.
UK needs to take urgent action over anti-Semitism, report says
All-party report says country must tackle ‘disturbing’ rise in anti-Semitism, including measures to deal with growing ‘cyber hate’ on social media.
Urgent action is needed to tackle a “disturbing” rise in anti-Semitism in Britain, including measures to deal with growing “cyber hate” on social media, the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism said Monday..
Last week, the Community Security Trust – which advises Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews on security – reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had risen to a record level last year.
Many of those incidents were sparked by the 50-day conflict in Gaza that ended in August. Israel launched its Gaza offensive with the declared aim of halting rocket attacks by Hamas. The rise in incidents prompted the parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism.
“Whilst the Jewish community is diverse and multi-faceted there is a palpable concern, insecurity, loneliness and fear following the summer’s rise in incidents and subsequent world events,” the report by the cross-party group of lawmakers said.
“A more sophisticated understanding of anti-Semitism is needed, together with better defined boundaries of acceptable discourse.”
Across Europe, Jews have warned of a growing under-current of anti-Semitism, fuelled by anger at Israeli policy in the Middle East and social tensions over immigration and increasing economic hardship under austerity policies that have helped far-right movements gain popularity.
Those fears have been exacerbated after an Islamist militant gunman killed four people in a Jewish supermarket in Paris last month.
The British lawmakers said the government, police and prosecutors needed to take action “to ensure Jewish communities have the necessary protection from the continuous terrorist threat they face”
Amongst their 34 recommendations was a call for a governmental fund to pay for security at synagogues and an independent council to be created to monitor trends in anti-Semitism.
They also said prosecutors should review possible action to prevent the spreading of hate online, noting that “Hitler” and the “Holocaust” were amongst the top 35 key words used on Twitter during the summer months of 2014.
The hashtags “Hitler” and “genocide” appeared with “high frequency”, the prosecutors added. The hashtag “Hitler Was Right” trended worldwide in July 2014.
Some members of parliament suggested that lawmakers consider preventative orders such as having restrictions to internet access for certain individuals, similar to restrictions for sex offender’s internet use.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday’s report was “hugely important”.
“No disagreements over foreign policy or politics can ever be allowed to justify anti-Semitism or any other form of racism, prejudice or extremism,” he said.
According to a survey last month, a quarter of Jews have considered leaving Britain in the last two years and well over half feel they have no long term future in Europe.
“The threat against the Jewish community is real and anxiety remains high,” said Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Following the Paris attack, the police said it had stepped up patrols at synagogues and other Jewish venues.