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“Italy has the highest quality of life for Jews, but antisemitic sentiment is widespread”

In Europe, Italy and Hungary have the highest quality of life for Jews. But they are also the countries where antisemitic sentiment is especially prevalent, according to a recent survey by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research for the European Jewish Association The index report, released at the end of June and presented at the association’s annual conference in Budapest, is based on a study combining polling data and policy information.
The goal is to create a single quality-of-life metric for Jews in the 12 European Union countries with sizable Jewish communities, combining data about how Jews feel about their safety and how prevalent antisemitism is with government policies. According to the statistician Daniel Staetsky, who wrote the report, the results may challenge preconceptions about which EU countries are most hospitable to Jews. For example, Germany scored high when it came to government policies relating to Jews. But Jews there report a weak sense of security, leading to an overall middling score.
“We welcome statements against antisemitism by European leaders. But more than statements is needed”, pointed out Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, presenting the study. So the index is primarily a tool “to demand concrete action from European leaders” and to ensure the development of Jewish life.
The European Jewish Association will thus make individual recommendations to each country surveyed. Titled “Europe and Jews, a country index of respect and tolerance towards Jews,” the study ranks the 12 countries surveyed as follows: Italy: 79, Hungary: 76, Denmark: 75, the United Kingdom: 75, Austria: 75, the Netherlands: 74, Sweden: 73, Germany: 72, Spain: 70, France: 68, Poland: 66, Belgium: 60.
Each country was graded on multiple subjects, including the Jewish sense of security, public attitudes to Jews, and the number of Jews who said they’d experienced antisemitism. The grades are based on major opinion polls in recent years, including those conducted by the Action and Protection League, a group that monitors hate crimes against Jews in several European countries, and the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency.
The study combined those scores with those the author gave to countries’ government policies, including funding for Jewish communities, whether they had adopted a definition of antisemitism, and the status of Holocaust education and freedom of worship.
Under that scoring system, Germany received an overall score of 72 despite having the best score (89) on government performance on issues related to Jews and a solid 92 as for the prevalence of antisemitism. But a relatively low score on Jewish sense of security (46) hurt its overall score, among other factors.
In the case of Hungary, “the score it received reflects the reality on the ground,” according to Shlomo Koves, head of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH umbrella group of Jewish communities in Hungary. “Jews can walk around here, go to synagogue, without the slightest fear of harassment,” he said.
But the prevalence of antisemitic sentiments in Hungarian society — an Anti-Defamation League survey from 2015 found that about 30% of the population hold them — “shows there is work to be done here, too, in education and outreach,” Koves said.