Insights from the dashboard: Antisemitism and social change

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Insights from the dashboard: Antisemitism and social change

Antisemitism continues to be prominent in Europe. But is a social change happening?

The EARS dashboard is a collection of summaries of articles from European media on the topic of religion and society. The dashboard allows users to select, among others, their topics and timeframe of interest. In this article, we will look at the development of the topics of antisemitism and social change on the dashboard in 2022.

Over the past few years, antisemitism has increased in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe. Previously on the EARS dashboard, summaries that mentioned antisemitism often featured the keywords racism, abuse, and transgressive behaviour. However, to reflect the prevelance of antisemitism in Europe, in mid April 2022, the term ‘antisemitism’ was added as its own keyword on the EARS dashboard.

Since being added as a keyword, there have been 14 summaries that tag the keyword antisemitism. 7 of these 14 summaries also tagged the global development of social change. On the dashboard, global developments are examples of objective changes occurring across countries. This article will give some examples of summaries that mention antisemitism while also examining what social change might mean in connection to antisemitism and what this can tell us about societal shifts that are occuring.

Antisemitism in Europe

Antisemitism in Europe continues to rise and is impacting the everyday lives of the continent’s Jewish population. The word cloud below shows the most common words featured in summaries that have tagged the keyword antisemitism since mid April 2022.

According to 89% of European Jews, antisemitism has increased in their country and 85% see it as a serious problem.[1] A summary published on the 23rd April from Finland explains EU anti-Semitism coordinator Katharina von Schnurbein’s concern that Finnish law allows antisemitism, as denial of it or the Holocaust is not separately punishable.[2] Von Schnurbein is worried that if antisemitism is not punishable, Jews will not report it.[3] The studies show that about 80% of Jews in Europe do not report about antisemitism they face.[4]

Moreover, another summary shows that in the village of Ootmarsum in the Netherlands, a song with antisemitic lyrics was sung as part of Easter Sunday celebrations.[5] The lyrics of the song describe how Jews “with their false counsel” are responsible for the “crime” of “sacrificing Christ on the cross.”[6] A Dutch rabbi from Nijmegen expressed his disbelief that such lyrics were still allowed to be sung.[7]

Furthermore, a summary from Germany highlights how closely linked antisemitism, freedom of expression and politics can be. In late April, German police banned a protest against Israeli aggression in Jerusalem which was planned to take place in Berlin as they believed there was a “direct risk of antisemitic statements and acts of violence.”[8] Berlin’s Interior Minister Iris Spranger said that in previous demonstrations she saw “crimes, anti-Semitic chants and slogans of the worst kind … that is completely unacceptable.”[9]

Is change happening?

Half of the dashboard summaries that feature the topic of antisemitism also include the keyword of social change. As you can see below, summaries that feature both keywords are from countries including the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia.

In the UK, an article was published by The Guardian newspaper on the 8th May 2022 which explained how the Church of England is to apologise for its “shameful actions” in passing anti-Jewish laws 800 years ago that paved the way for the expulsion of Jews from England.[10] The apology follows a 2019 document produced by the Church of England which said Christian attitudes towards Judaism over centuries had provided a “fertile seed-bed for murderous antisemitism.”[11] Such an apology suggests that some of the main representatives of Christianity within the UK are acknowledging their role in perpetuating antisemitism throughout history, something that can be viewed as a sign of positive social change.[12]

Moreover, another summary reports how an envoy on antisemitism gathered in Jerusalem in April 2022 to mark Holocaust Rememberance Day. International bodies including the SECCA (Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism), UNESC, and Council of Europe met to discuss how to combat the continued growth of antisemitism in Europe.[13] They discussed  Ukraine’s Jewish community, Holocaust denial and distortion, and the power of sport to fight hate.[14]

However, while both these summaries show positive social change in relation to antisemitism, not all summaries feature both keywords in such a positive way.  One summary from Germany shows that the number of antisemitic incidents in the country has been “rising continuously since 2015” and that antisemitic views are increasingly embraced by people in the “middle of German society.”[15]

Therefore, in conclusion, the EARS dashboard includes a handful of examples of positive social change in connection with antisemitism, a trend that hopefully will continue to become more commonplace in society and reflected on the dashboard in the months to come. However, it is important to acknowledge that some summaries that feature both topics indicate that antisemitism is becoming increasingly widespread in some European countries, a trend that is of great concern.

Learn more on the EARS dashboard

The EARS dashboard allows you to gain insight into a large number of topics, including abuse. It is a free tool that allows you to make connections like those described above, and to find out about relationships between interesting subjects across Europe. Please visit the dashboard to learn more.

Martha Scott-Cracknell

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[1] Monitoring antisemitism | European Commission

[2] Juutalaisia syrjitään myös Suomessa ja siksi antisemitismin eri muodot on tunnistettava, sanoo EU:n asiantuntija

[3] Juutalaisia syrjitään myös Suomessa ja siksi antisemitismin eri muodot on tunnistettava, sanoo EU:n asiantuntija

[4] Juutalaisia syrjitään myös Suomessa ja siksi antisemitismin eri muodot on tunnistettava, sanoo EU:n asiantuntija

[5] Antisemitische Paaszang in Twente wekt onbegrip: ‘Dat dít nog gebeurt’

[6] Antisemitische Paaszang in Twente wekt onbegrip: ‘Dat dít nog gebeurt’

[7] Antisemitische Paaszang in Twente wekt onbegrip: ‘Dat dít nog gebeurt’

[8] Pro-Palestijnse betoging in Berlijn verboden uit vrees voor antisemitisme | NOS

[9] Pro-Palestijnse betoging in Berlijn verboden uit vrees voor antisemitisme | NOS

[10] Apology, 800 years on, for laws that expelled Jews from England | Anglicanism | The Guardian

[11] Apology, 800 years on, for laws that expelled Jews from England | Anglicanism | The Guardian

[12] The Church of England is apologising for medieval antisemitism – why now?

[13] Antisemitism envoys gather in Jerusalem for Holocaust Remembrance Day – News

[14] Antisemitism envoys gather in Jerusalem for Holocaust Remembrance Day – News

[15] Duitse veiligheidsdienst ziet meer antisemitisme ‘in midden samenleving’