Italy and Hungary were among the friendliest countries overall to Jews, according to a new survey released Monday at the European Jewish Association (EJA) conference in Budapest, allisraelnews.com said.
The study, which found that Belgium and Poland were ranked the least friendly, was conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), under the scientific direction of Dr. Daniel Steietsky.
The countries where Jews in Europe feel most secure are Denmark and Hungary.
Hungary also ranked first with the lowest number of Jews experiencing anti-Semitic attacks, followed by Italy.
Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe — possibly even the safest — for Jews, deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said on Monday.
Semjén told a conference of the European Jewish Association (EJA) in Budapest that Hungary maintained zero-tolerance against anti-Semitism, regardless of whether they are connected to the extreme right, extreme left, Jihadists or anti-Israeli sentiments.
Relations between Jewish congregations and the Hungarian state are “perfectly organised”, with all Jewish institutions, kindergartens, schools, hospitals, and social institutions receiving state financing, Semjén said.
The government has signed comprehensive agreements with Jewish congregations under the arrangements of which former properties seized by the state in the Communist era have been returned or, if the church did not want them returned, compensation has been paid, he added.
Semjén said that in Hungary anti-Israeli sentiments are viewed as a form of anti-Semitism, adding that the government represented this position both in Hungary and in European Union forums, where Israel can count on Hungary. “Hungary vetoes any measures that unfairly attack Israel,” he said.
Semjén also said that radical Islam, which he said was another type of anti-Semitism, was non-existent in Hungary.
Slomó Köves, the chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH), said that Hungary’s Jewish community was “living its Renaissance”, while community leaders faced various challenges. Apart from fighting against anti-Semitism and ensuring the security of the Jewish community, of paramount importance is generating interest in real Jewish life, he said.
EJA Chairman Menachem Margolin said that restrictions on the freedom of religion were among the greatest problems for Jewish communities in Europe. Many countries have banned or plan to ban such important ritual activities as Kosher slaughter and circumcision, he added.
The European Jewish Association (EJA) has awarded a prize to Interior Minister Sándor Pintér for improving public safety and his role in the fight against anti-Semitism, the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) said on Tuesday.
The award was presented by EJA President Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the statement said.
At his annual conference held in Budapest on Monday, EJA presented a comparative study indicating that Hungary was the second “friendliest” European state to Jews after Italy, based on surveys on the community’s sense of safety, as well as attitudes against anti-Semitism and the expression of anti-Israel sentiments.
EJA Director Alex Benjamin praised Pintér’s achievements and the efforts of the Hungarian government. Cooperation between law enforcement agencies and Jewish organisation has flourished on his watch, and the government maintains a zero-tolerance policy against anti-Semitism, he said.
Besides enshrining the protection of the dignity of communities in the Fundamental Law, the government has adopted a number of measures to protect minorities from hate speech and to educate law enforcement officers on hate crimes, the statement said.