Places related to presumably non-Israeli, non-American Jews have been violently attacked subsequent to the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision: in Europe a synagogue was firebombed and a kosher restaurant had a night of broken glass. Such stuff has happened before.

By contrast, I’m not aware of any Buddhist places of worship being attacked in retaliation for what’s being reported in Burma, Russian Orthodox churches or Russian restaurants being attacked for Russia attacking ... lots of countries or minority groups (the only case I can think of is publicity hounds FEMEN attacking or desecrating churches in response to jailing “Pussy Riot”), or any Christian churches (even evangelical ones) being targeted for the US Jerusalem decision or lots of other conflicts the US is involved in.

(I am aware of Muslim places of worship being attacked, but it tends to be either sectarian violence or in retaliation for actions by Muslim non-state actors)

Why the difference?

  • 8
    If possible, please try to describe anti-Jewish sentiment without endorsing it yourself in answers.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 3:25
  • Comments deleted. Please don't try to answer the question with comments. If you would like to answer, write an answer which adheres to our quality standards.
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 12:29
  • I'm finding it difficult to imagine an answer to this question that is backed up by any kind of research rather than the answerer's opinion. Would such research even exist?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 19:27
  • So you're asking why Jews are only attacked after Israeli human rights abuses but other religions are attacked at random? I'm not sure that's true. There are plenty of cases of eg Chinese Americans being attacked over the alleged acts of China
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 21:40

4 Answers 4


Israel calls itself a Jewish state, and so its identity is strongly intertwined with it. This is quite unlike Russia and Orthodox Christianity there - though Pussy Riot do make this link. The Buddhist demographic in Europe is insignificant, a mere 0.2%.

Also, it feeds into a long history of anti-semitism in the West though this is fairly residual, it still persists.

I find it interesting that you mention violence on Muslim places of worship pretty much in passing, I think the situation is comparable, though of course different.

  • I'm not sure if "historical anti-semitism in the West" is relevant for the examples listed. AFAIK those 2 attacks were both perpetrated by recent Muslim immigrants.
    – MSalters
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 11:20
  • Do you have data comparing the two religious groups in terms of who gets targeted more (in a relative sense, since there are more Muslims on this planet than Jews)?
    – jjack
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 11:19

Because the radical Muslim communities in Europe are generally anti-Semitic rather than merely anti-Zionist as often portrayed in the mainstream media. Having the US President declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel is no more than a convenient excuse for attacking a group of people they actively dislike. Such attacks have become the norm these days in countries like France, to the point where European Jews even started to immigrate in record numbers to Israel as they faced a lot of discrimination in their local communities.

So the answer to your question is simple: for the assailant it's the race/religion that actually matters, not just the nationality.

  • 3
    Seeing as the attacked Jews largely aren't Israeli, the "just" in your last sentence seems wrong.
    – tim
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 9:07
  • 4
    Probably. But in the cases in question, it was specifically about non-Israeli Jews, and I think we should try not to confuse nationality and ethnicity/religion in answers as well. Otherwise I agree that the "anti-Zionism" of radical Muslims (and most everybody else, really) is just thinly veiled antisemitism, and that the recent attacks are largely out of that demographic. But this is of course not an issue unique to it; people from all sorts of backgrounds eg accuse Jews of dual loyalties (see eg Bernie Sanders).
    – tim
    Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 9:21
  • 7
    Do you have a reference for your first statement? Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 10:06
  • 2
    @MoziburUllah yes, post updated. It's a widely known fact outside of left-biased media outlets. Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 17:36
  • 4
    @JonathanReez 36% in UK or 34% in Germany is not the majority. And just because they barely get above 50% in other countries doesn't magically make the rest 49% of attackers irrelevant. Note I said "Many of the attackers", not "Most of the attackers" in the original post. Explanation that works only for half the cases is not complete, all I am saying.
    – Alice
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 10:29

It is quite a hard question you ask, and a controversial one. So I will try to give answering elements.

  1. Isreal describes itself as a Jewish country, and it was founded in this purpose after WW2. So it is an easy fallacy to assume every Jew is supporting Israel, and not only the country as a hole, but each of its actions. Obviously, it is false. You can be jewish and dislike Israel, you can be jewish, like Israel, but dislike what Israel does in Jerusalem. And it does not need to be jewish to like Israel and its actions (up to my knowledge, Trump is not jewish). Nevertheless, that is how it is seen by some people.

  2. Not every Jew likes Israel, but probably almost every jew knows someone which is Israeli (by double nationality at least). What I mean is jewish people are related to Israeli, so when you hurt some (innocent) Jew, you also hurt some Israeli (seen as guilty). To answer this, I suspect firebombers etc. would answer that Israel also kills innocent people. If it is true or not does not matter. The fact that other people commit crimes do not allow you to do the same.

  3. The conflict in middle-east is seen as first importance for muslims. Only a small number of them use violence, and the majority probably does not approve it, but the majority is against Israel (antizionist), and antisemitism exists more than it should. It does not mean that every antizionist is antisemitic. However, several forces help assimilating antisemitism and antizionism to push their own political agenda:

    • Hamas charter, article 7 : "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews)", quotation attributed to Muhammad.
    • Some people opposing both antisemitism and antisionism (Antonio Guterres: "the modern form of antisemitism is to imply Israel should not exist"). I suspect there are such statements from people closer from the israeli power, but I could not find them.
    • Antisemitic people call themselves "antizionists" to hide the less acceptable truth.

    This intellectual confusion antisemitism = antizionism helps people that were "only" antizionist to become antisemitic.

Then, you recall that there is violence against Muslims also. It is true and should be noted, but comparing the two kinds of violence would be even more difficult so I won't go this way.

  • One point you should not ignore: Many paint any criticism of israel at all as anti-semitic, be it to demonize anyone who dares question (and thus silence them), just to undermine them (to get them out of their way), or to pro-actively avoid being painted with that brush (fear and peer-pressure are bad). Commented Jan 2, 2022 at 21:27

The two reasons I can think of are a) Anger at Israel’s ongoing violent persecution of Palestinians and refusal to negotiate for peace in good faith, and/or b) anti-Semitism

  • 4
    -1 even though your answer is the only one which directly names the correct answer (it's b in case anyone is wondering). I downvoted because your answer is too short and doesn't provide a lot of information. It is more of a comment than an answer, really. I'll retract my DV if you add a bit more context and ideally sources to support your answer. Though I also think that a) doesn't make a lot of sense. Even if we were to assume "ongoing violent persecution", people who aren't antisemites would target eg Israeli embassies, not Jewish places.
    – tim
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 9:39
  • @tim It is because Israel describes itself as the Jewish state, and hence the political entity of Israel is viewed as in some sense representing the Jewish people . I'm not saying this is a correct or moral view, but it is an explanation.
    – user5904
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 22:02
  • @tim I agree that targeting the embassy or an Israeli travel agency etc. makes more “sense” but people are not often the rational animals of economists’ dreams, particularly not an angry person with an intense desire to damage public/private property (likely a young, poorly educated male). “Hey that star is on their flag, right? Gimme the brick...” Not saying that’s what happened of course but ascertaining precise motive(s) without access to interviews with the people involved is very difficult. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 19:36

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