How Does Swiss Anti-Semitism Differ From Other Western European Countries?

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Switzerland: Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

A recent study carried out by Zurich University of Applied Sciences showed that 50% of Swiss Jews have been victims of anti-Semitism in the past five years.

Interestingly, unlike many other countries, the anti-Semitism in Switzerland “obviously comes from the middle class of society,” said Prof. Dirk Baier, the director of the study.

Baier elaborated that “middle-class anti-Semitism” seems to be unique to Switzerland as in other Western European countries anti-Semitism is mainly expressed by immigrant and lower-class societies, many of whom have extremist views, both on the right and on the left.

Baier added that the results were not a surprise to him due to a previous government survey by the Swiss government that showed that one out of ten Swiss citizens harbors negative views about Jews.

According to what Baier told the Berner Oberlander newspaper, the Swiss don’t have it in only for the Jews. “If you asked 500 black people in Switzerland about their experiences, you’d probably get responses similar to those of the Jewish community now,” Baier said.

“There is daily anti-Semitism in Switzerland,” said Dominic Pugatsch, director of the GRA Foundation against racism and anti-Semitism. “Verbal harassment is unfortunately widespread on the street, at work or at school.”

According to the survey, the most common form of anti-Semitism that Jews are subject to are verbal attacks and insults but 6% reported that they have experience anti-Semitic tainted vandalism of their properties and 3.5% have been victims of physical violence.

One Jewish student who was surveyed said that out of bitter experience he refrains from wearing a kippah in certain places such as on public transportation or at universities after experiencing incidents of passerby yelling “Heil Hitler” or similar expressions at him when he wore a kippah in public.

He added that he has also been subjected to violent hate speech while playing on a Jewish soccer team.

The Jewish community in Switzerland of about 18,000 Jews is the tenth-biggest Jewish community in Europe – a tiny minority in the country of 8.6 million people. The largest Jewish communities are located in the cities of Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)