Europe's young Jews after Paris and Copenhagen attacks

  • Published
Members of Jewish community in Copenhagen after attack at synagogue (15 Feb 2015)Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Attacks targeting Jews in France and, above have left young members of the community on edge

Europe's Jewish communities have had to boost their security after four Jewish men were murdered at a kosher supermarket in Paris and a fifth man was shot dead outside a Copenhagen synagogue.

For young Jews, the violent anti-Semitism comes as a shock, and a reminder of the Holocaust 70 years ago.

Here are the views of five young people across Europe, including one who knew Dan Uzan, the 37-year-old man shot dead while guarding Copenhagen's synagogue on 15 February.

Yael, 24, Denmark

Image caption,
Yael: I used to say "Hi" to Dan when I went to the synagogue

It feels weird at the moment - on the one hand I feel very safe, on the other I don't. I've known this would happen for a long time, so it didn't come as a surprise. We've asked for more security from the government several times.

I used to say "Hi" to Dan when I saw him at the synagogue. One of my best friends was Dan's pallbearer - he stands outside as well and it could have been him.

I went to the synagogue for a memorial to Dan and I was afraid. I have an American boyfriend and I think I want to emigrate. I'm not sure I feel safe enough to raise children here.

It means a lot to see my countrymen rallying around us, especially at the memorial. But all the racism scares me. You see so much abuse towards Muslims: why wouldn't they say it to Jews?

If you know enough about Jewish history, then you know it's not safe to be a Jew in Europe right now.

You can see it slowly coming. It was the same before the Second World War - the anti-Semitism just grows and grows.

I can feel it coming. I don't want to die in Auschwitz.

Nicolas, France, 25

Image caption,
Nicolas: If someone needs to leave France it's not the Jews. It's the haters.

It's no easy task being a French Jew at the moment. We're always being asked whether there is a future for Jews here. I think there is.

I'm not living in fear but when I go to a kosher supermarket, I can't stop myself thinking it is a target.

Anti-Semitism has risen every year - and the French people realise more and more that it has grown. The president supported us and said that France would not be France without the Jews. I couldn't agree more.

Some Jews want to leave to Israel and I'm okay with that. But I won't move to Israel because of fear. I think if someone needs to leave France, it's not the Jews - it's the haters.

Viktor, 21, Hungary

Image caption,
Viktor: I always have to make a good impression because I am the only Jew that most people know

Being a Jew in Eastern Europe is different from elsewhere: I always have to make a good impression because I am the only Jew that most people know.

When I go out, I can't wear my kippah (skullcap) or a Star of David t-shirt. When I wear those, I feel that I am not a member of Hungarian society.

I believe in change and that in my lifetime we will change people's thinking. I don't want to be afraid to be a Hungarian Jew. I don't want to go and live in Israel, I want to stay and live here.

However, Hungary's second biggest political party, Jobbik, is anti-Semitic and a very big problem. There was a similar situation before the Second World War. We have to do something. I don't want to believe it will be the same.

Laura, 20, London

Image caption,
Laura: These attacks have caused fear and panic, but we still feel safe in Britain

I think being a young Jew in London hasn't changed visibly after these attacks. I've always felt safe and part of a thriving intellectual community. Receiving the news about the attacks is shocking, upsetting and scary but doesn't change this.

I have thought about being attacked, and so have my friends in the community. But these attacks are rare. Until we see evidence that it could happen here, I don't want to spread the panic.

My dad and his family left Iraq in the 1970s to seek refuge from terrible persecution, and that's exactly what they've found. These attacks have caused fear and panic, but we still feel safe in Britain.

Itay, 21, Netherlands

Image caption,
Itay: I think my children will be scared as well

It's pretty scary to be a Dutch Jew at the moment.

My niece and nephew go to the same Jewish elementary school as I did - there are now soldiers standing outside with guns.

Whenever I'm with my Jewish friends, we talk about security and threats; a few years ago we would never do that. I'm not saying people should be afraid because stopping living your life is how the terrorists win.

I don't see a clear way of stopping these attacks - I can't say if we do this or that then in 10 years it will all be fine. So I think my children will be scared as well.

But I still feel safe to be Jewish here; I don't think people should leave Europe for Israel. I feel much more Dutch and European than Israeli. This is my home.

Benjamin, 24, Germany

Image caption,
Benjamin: I do think twice before I tell somebody that I am Jewish - sometimes you have to keep it to yourself

Life for German Jews hasn't changed, but being a Jew in Germany already makes my everyday life very different.

The attacks were scary but I went to a Jewish high school and synagogue. There have been police in front of them for a long time.

I am a full part of German society. Most of my friends aren't Jewish, but still it is impossible to wear a kippah outside.

I do think twice before I tell somebody that I am Jewish - I know that sometimes you have to keep it to yourself.

I experience anti-Semitism - words like "dirty Jew".

Once I was out with my school and singing to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. Students from another school started throwing coins and then attacked us.

It's only happened a few times and people often step in. The government helps by speaking out a lot.

There is also a new type of anti-Semitism, mostly informed by people's views of Israel, even though most Jews are not necessarily Israeli. A lot of this comes from Muslim immigrants.

I believe we can co-exist but radicalism is challenging this. Even if an attack happened here, it would still take a lot for me to leave. I feel at home here.