(JTA) — A study published by a German federal entity said that anti-Semitism in Europe is unaffected by recent Muslim immigration, prompting a prominent critic to call the report selective and flawed.
The claim appeared in a study published this month by the Berlin-based EVZ foundation featuring research by the University of London’s Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism.
It sought to measure how the arrival of more than 2 million people from the Middle East and Africa since 2011 has affected expressions of anti-Semitism in five Western European countries.
“Neither the analysis of existing data nor of the interviews undertaken for this report suggests a significant connection” between the immigrants’ arrival and “the extent and character of antisemitism in Western Europe,” the researchers wrote in the report titled “Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today, Is there a connection?”
Claims that the newcomers’ arrival to Europe could pose a threat to Jews appears to be based “on the perceptions of Jewish individuals and communities rather than the objective threat carried by immigrants,” the report states.
The report singles out for criticism Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Committee and the point man on anti-Semitism of the OSCE intergovernmental organization. Baker is among the individuals who “expressed the idea that recent refugees bring dangers for Jews in Europe,” allegedly without proof, the study says.
Concerns on the same matter expressed by Ron van der Wieken, the chairman of the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, also were listed in the study.
Baker hit back at the report’s authors in an op-ed he wrote last week for The Jewish Chronicle of London, saying they “ignore the data, dismiss the problem, and blame the victims.”
He wrote that the study “ignores” how in a major EU study of Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism, “respondents said that about 40 percent of the most serious incidents of physical violence or threats that they witnessed or experienced came from ‘someone with a Muslim extremist view.’”
In the Netherlands, the CIDI monitor estimated that “foreigners” are responsible for 70 percent of anti-Semitic incidents. In December, a Syrian refugee smashed the windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam while waving a Palestinian flag.
And in France, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism said this year that people with Muslim background are responsible for nearly all anti-Semitic violence in that country.
“Instead of confronting these results,” Baker wrote,” the researchers “take pains to discount them.” He added: “Burying your head in the sand is rarely good advice, even if it comes in a fifty-page package with footnotes.”
The study’s researchers wrote that there is evidence that people from Muslim societies may be likelier to harbor anti-Semitic sentiments than Europeans, but that this does not necessarily translate into action.
Muslim minorities have a “sense of grievance and injustice which is well grounded,” the authors wrote, adding this “prompts the question whether there is any connection between these experiences of discrimination, disadvantage” by Muslims and “the persistence of antisemitism.”