IN GANGSTA rap, cartoonish threats of violence are routine. So fans of the German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang were hardly shocked that, on their latest album, they bragged that their torsos were “better defined than an Auschwitz inmate’s” and vowed to “make another Holocaust” (against whom was unclear—possibly rival hip-hop artists). But when, on April 12th, the duo won German music’s highest honour, the ECHO prize, other musicians and critics were outraged. German music publishers decided to stop awarding the prize in order to prevent future controversies.

It was part of a busy month for European anti-Semitism. On April 8th Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, won re-election after a campaign in which he demonised George Soros, a Jewish financier and philanthropist, as a shadowy billionaire secretly controlling the opposition for nefarious purposes. In Berlin on April 17th, a young Israeli was assaulted while wearing a kippah, or Jewish skullcap; the alleged attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Ironically, the victim was an Israeli Arab who was trying to prove to a friend that wearing a kippah was not dangerous.) The assault underscored fears of anti-Semitism within the 1.2m Muslim refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2015.

In Poland on April 17th Ruch Narodowy, a far-right party, filed a complaint against Reuven Rivlin, the president of Israel, for allegedly violating a new law against saying that the Polish nation bears any guilt for the Holocaust. The following Sunday in France, Le Parisien, a newspaper, published an open letter from 250 bigwigs denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” among Muslims. Noting the murder in March of an elderly Holocaust survivor, the letter demanded that religious authorities renounce anti-Jewish verses in the Koran. Meanwhile in Britain, the Labour Party continued a long-running row over anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Many people worry that anti-Semitism is growing in Europe. Since the early 2000s, murders motivated by hatred of Jews have occurred with dismal regularity; the terrorist attacks on the Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014 and a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015 were only the most deadly. In Britain 145 violent anti-Semitic incidents, from punching Jewish schoolchildren to egging pedestrians, were recorded last year, a 34% increase over 2016. In France there were 92, a rise of 26%.

Yet other countries experienced no such increase. And until last year attacks in France had been declining; in most countries the figures tend to bounce around. Statistics can sometimes be misleading. In the Netherlands a startling 41% of all criminal incidents of discrimination last year involved anti-Semitism, but of those three-quarters were related to football. The Amsterdam team, Ajax, is nicknamed “the Jews”, so the chants of opposing fans are sometimes hateful, which can be a crime in the Netherlands.

Measures of underlying anti-Semitic prejudice are also equivocal. Surveys by the Pew Global Attitudes project and by the Anti-Defamation League, an American Jewish watchdog, find that in Europe negative feelings towards Jews have mostly declined over the past 15 years. Lars Rensmann, who studies anti-Semitism and populism at the University of Groningen, thinks anti-Jewish hatred has not proliferated so much as grown more visible with the rise of social media. He adds that the rise of fake news and conspiracy theories about globalisation feed anti-Semitism, “the quintessential conspiracy myth”.

Antagonism towards Israel often spills over into anti-Semitism, particularly on the political left. And European Muslims are much more likely to have anti-Semitic beliefs than non-Muslims. But it is debatable whether this “new anti-Semitism” has supplanted the traditional variety. A study by London’s Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism found that because Europe’s Muslim minorities remain small, most anti-Jewish prejudice is still of the old-fashioned nationalist kind.

To judge by the ceremonies on April 19th commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, one might have thought that tension between Jews and European nationalists had been put to rest. Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, who hails from the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, lauded the suicidal heroism of the Jewish fighters who battled Nazi troops for nearly a month. Israeli-Polish relations have been in crisis since the PiS government passed the Holocaust law, which many Jews consider an attempt to whitewash history, and the ceremony gave Mr Duda a chance to mend fences.

But Mr Duda also claimed the Jewish fighters’ sacrifice as part of Poland’s own story. “They died fighting for dignity, for freedom, but also for Poland, because they were Polish citizens,” he proclaimed. This touched a sore spot: many Jews feel that Poland historically did not consider its Jews to be fully Polish.

Across much of eastern Europe, portions of the population still entertain doubts on that score, according to Pew figures. In Lithuania 23% say they would not be willing to accept Jews as citizens; in Romania it is 22%, in Poland 18%. This is not surprising. Historically, eastern Europe has been the main staging ground of modern anti-Semitism and genocide, not just during the Holocaust but in events such as the revolt of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, a Cossack hetman (military commander) in the 17th century, and the pogroms of the Black Hundreds, a Tsarist militia in the 19th century.

Yet curiously, in Ukraine, where the history of anti-Semitism is as bloody as anywhere, just 5% are unwilling to see Jews as citizens. Unlike Catholic Poland, Ukraine is multi-religious (though mainly Orthodox Christian) and has a substantial Jewish population, of around 300,000. Vyacheslav Likhachev, a sociologist who monitors anti-Semitism, says that apart from a fad for neo-Nazi youth subculture a decade ago, it has not really caught on. Radical-right parties with anti-Semitic ideologies have rarely won more than 1% of the vote. More recently, he points out, “because of Russian aggression they have a real enemy. They don’t need conspiracy theories about the Zionist Occupation Government.”

Indeed, in most countries, anti-Semitism rises or falls in concert with nationalism and identity politics. David Feldman of the Pears Institute notes the importance of “competitive victimhood”, in which claims of oppression by Jews, Muslims and other groups step on each others’ toes. Dariusz Stola, head of the Polin Museum of Polish Jewish History, says the same is true in Poland, where the national story is one of victimisation by Germany and Russia. It is more accurate, he thinks, to see anti-Semitism as part of a general wave of chauvinist sentiment since the migrant crisis of 2015; levels of hostility to Muslims, gays and Roma have risen too. Says Mr Stola: “Xenophobia is not selective.”