Anti-Semitism, or a fear and hatred of the Jewish people, has experienced a long history of expression since the days of ancient civilizations, with most of it having originated in the Christian and pre-Christian civilizations of Europe.
While it has been cited as having been expressed in the intellectual and political centers of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, the phenomenon received greater institutionalization within European Christianity following the dissolution of the ancient Jewish center of power in Jerusalem, resulting in the forced segregation of Jewish populations residing in various parts of the continent and restrictions on their participation in the public life of European society.
The Renaissance, Enlightenment and imperialist eras led to a series of increasingly xenophobic and non-religious expressions of anti-Semitic phobias and outrages in the continent, even as much of the continent had experienced significant political reformations. By the time that a number of republican and other non-monarchical systems were established, romantic ethnic nationalism, xenophobic Orientalism, and labor movements had begun to provide a main conduit and motivator for expressions of anti-Semitism. This was most evidenced in the anti-Semitic acts pursued by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the early-to-mid-20th century.
Throughout the 20th century, European style anti-Semitism spread beyond Europe to the Middle East and other predominately-Muslim countries throughout Asia,eventually merging with radical Islam, resulting in a new breed of anti-Semitism. By the 21st century, labor-left anti-Semitism remained the primary conduit and motivator for anti-Semitic expressions in Europe, even as the ethnic nationalist conduit has rapidly declined in government endorsement, and risen in illicit activity, in most of Europe since World War II and the consolidation of the European Union.
Antisemitism has increased significantly in Europe since 2000, with significant increases in verbal attacks against Jews and vandalism such as graffiti, fire bombings of Jewish schools, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. In Germany and Austria, where anti-Semitic incidents are highest in Europe, physical assaults against Jews including beatings, stabbings and other violence increased markedly, in a number of cases resulting in serious injury and even death.
The Netherlands and Sweden have also had consistently high rates of antisemitic attacks since 2000. Compared to France, the United Kingdom and much of the rest of Europe where immigrant Arabs commit the majority of anti-Semitic crimes, in Germany and Austria, indigenous Germans and Austrians are more likely to commit violent anti-Semitic acts, attack Jews verbally or vandalize Jewish property than immigrant Arabs. Arab and pro-Palestinian groups are involved in a much smaller percentage of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany and Austria compared to the indigenous population. Much of the new European anti-Semitic violence could be seen as a spill-over from the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict, since the majority of the perpetrators are from the large immigrant Arab communities in European cities, even though the victims are not Israeli citizens.
In 2012, the The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has rated the Anti-Semitism resurgent in Europe as one of the top 10 issues affecting Jews in 2012.
According to theThe Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the number of anti-Semitic political parties in European parliaments rose from 1 to 3 during 2012. A survey in 10 European countries revealed high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes. In June, Greece’s neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, won 21 seats in parliament. In November, the radical Svoboda (Freedom) party of Ukraine captured more than 10% of the popular vote, giving electoral support to a party well-known for its anti-Semitic rhetoric. They joined the ranks of Jobbik, an openly anti-Semitic party, in the Hungarian parliament.