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Jonathan Boyd gave a keynote lecture at the Jewish Agency Board of Governors' meetings in June in Tel Aviv, as part of the Agency's attempt to understand some of the dynamics in European Jewish life.
In his analysis of contemporary reality, he used multiple data sources to explore two competing hypotheses - both the sense that antisemitism is rising and becoming an increasing threat, and the sense that European Jews are experiencing a reneaissance of Jewish cultural activity.
Looking at some of the data about antisemitism, he argued that "we are not witnessing a dramatic increase in antisemitism over time, but rather dramatic spikes in antisemitic incidents at particular times, aligned directly with the explosion of conflict in Gaza."
He also added that there is no evidence at this stage of an exodus of Jews from Europe. Presenting data on migration to Israel from Europe's largest Jewish populations, he said: "Looking at the proportions that made aliyah between 2010 and 2014, you can see that they barely made a dent. Over the course of the past five years, roughly 1% of British, German and Hungarian Jews made aliyah. The proportion for France is higher - it stands at about 3% - but that still means that 97% have not. There is no exodus."
At the same time, he urged caution about claims of a renaissance. Quoting the 2010 Jumpstart survey of European Jewish innovation, he argued that the claims there that "Europe is witnessing a revival of contemporary Jewish life through the emergence of hundreds of Jewish initiatives reaching hundreds of thousands of people" "rather overstates the reality." Nevertheless, he stressed that "there is much going on in Europe to admire."
In conclusing, he maintained that "for the time being, the data suggest that Jewish life in Europe will kick on, challenged by momentary spikes in antisemitism that instil anxiety and fear, but bolstered by a steely determination to create a dynamic Jewish life where we are."
To watch the lecture in full, click here (key segment runs from 38:40 to 57:43)