Jewish leader warns that anti-Semitism in Europe is "like the 1930s"

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder has said that European Jews "live in fear" once again amid a surge of anti-Semitism on the continent

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A prominent Jewish figure has compared anti-Semitism in Europe to what it was like in the 1930s, saying that European Jews are living in "fear" once again.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) president Ronald Lauder urged the United States to beware of a surge of anti-Semitism on the continent at congressional committee in Washington on Tuesday, the AFP news agency reported.

He said that events such as the recent attacks in France and Copenhagen highlighted a new and growing threat driven by radical Islam sweeping across Europe.

"Once again, like the 1930s, European Jews live in fear," he said.

“The United States can and must speak loudly and clearly to condemn this evil for what it is – the radical Islamic hatred of Jews. To defeat this new flame of radical Islamic terror and survive… the United States must lead.”

Lauder, whose mother was Estee Lauder of the cosmetics empire, was joined by French Jewish leader Roger Cukierman and Danish Jewish leader Dan Asmussen at the event.

Asmussen noted February’s attack on a free speech debate and synagogue in Copenhagen but stressed that Danish society “itself is not and has never been anti-Semitic and many of the threats facing Danish Jewry – like the rest of Europe – come from marginalised and radicalised Muslims, and these form a small minority of Muslims in Denmark.”

The WCJ represents Jewish communities in 100 countries.

But Jewish organisations in Britain have stressed that the situation for Jewish people living in Europe were "very different" from those of the 1930s.

Jonathan Arkush, Vice President of The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which is an affiliate of the WJC, told The Independent that while Laudner was right in identifying this modern-day anti-Semitism, “it’s important to be clear that the fear currently experienced by Jews in some European countries, especially in France, is very different from the 1930s.

“In those dark days, anti-Semitism was actively fomented by the Nazi rulers and their helpers. Today, anti-Semitism is strongly opposed and condemned by governments across Europe.”

Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust, which provides security advice to synagogues and Jewish schools, told The Independent: “Such remarks should not be taken to mean that another European Holocaust is somehow lurking around the corner.

"The situation today is very different, but the anxiety felt by many European Jews about antisemitism and jihadist terrorism is real and justified.

"The difference between the 1930s and today is that if Jews today look over their shoulder in fear, they ought to see their governments with them in solidarity. Those governments, and civil society as a whole, need to ensure that European Jewish life is protected and can be normative.”

In February, figures published by the CST suggested that anti-Semitic attacks had more than doubled in the UK in the past year against the backdrop of Israel’s military action in Gaza.

Overall the trust logged 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 – a 118 per cent increase on the previous year.

Scotland Yard has promised a security review of London’s Jewish community and Manchester Police said it had stepped up its patrols.

Since the deadly attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and Jewish supermarket in Paris in January, France has deployed thousands of police troops to sensitive sites, including synagogues.

 “While we welcome support from all quarters, including the United States, we Europeans have the responsibility of leading the fight against anti-Semitism and racism of every description in our continent, just as we are doing,” Lauder added.