Angst is, indeed, palpable across the continent. From Britain to Italy, tensions have risen sharply. In the period between the Hamas attack and Oct. 27, Britain’s Community Security Trust, a charity, said that it had recorded 805 antisemitic acts, the highest number in a three-week period since it began reporting episodes of this kind in 1984.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service said it had scaled up its visible presence after the conflict began, noting in a statement that it had seen a “significant increase in hate crime, particularly antisemitism,” since the war between Israel and Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, began. Thousands of officers are undertaking extra patrols across the city.
At a recent rally in Milan, protesters held aloft a poster with an image of Anne Frank wearing a keffiyeh, ostensibly to draw a connection between the fate of the young Jewish girl who died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany during World War II and the Palestinians’ situation in Gaza.
The spillover into Europe of upsurges in Israeli-Palestinian violence is not new. Tensions between the large Muslim populations in France and Germany, themselves often subject to hatred and violence, and the two countries’ Jewish communities have tended to rise in tandem with regular Israeli incursions into Gaza since 2009.
But the extent of antisemitic acts, and of Jewish fear, feels different this time as the scale of the horror unfurling in the Holy Land has sent everyone, on either side of the conflict, over the edge.
“France is seeing a wave of antisemitism not equaled since 1945,” said Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French author and movie director.
In France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, antisemitic attacks have surged since the Oct. 7 attack, with 819 acts registered and 414 arrests made, according to Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister.
Parisians in the 14th Arrondissement, a southern neighborhood of the city, woke up on Tuesday morning to find 65 Stars of David sprayed on residential buildings. “These acts create a lot of fear and dread in the community,” said Carine Petit, the local mayor. “It has awakened terrible things from our history.”