A Quarter of Europeans are Still Antisemites

Antisemitic stereotypes were considerably higher among Muslims than other people groups

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Antisemitism
Photo: Uri Lenz/Flash90

One in four Europeans who responded to a recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) poll still hold negative, hateful attitudes toward Jews.

Antisemitism continues to be rampant throughout Europe and hatred of Jews is rising significantly in the countries surveyed. Prejudice towards Jewish people and conspiracy theories about Jewish domination of the financial world and dual loyalty is still painfully prevalent and growing.

The survey was conducted in 18 countries as part of the ADL Global 100 Index between April and June 2019 in Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. European and other countries with large Jewish populations.

In addition to the troubling European results, the survey found a significant increase in antisemitic attitudes in Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine in relation to the 2015 ADL survey.

In Poland, where the restoration of Jewish property taken from them during the Holocaust has been at the center of a public discourse in recent years, antisemitic attitudes have grown to 48 percent of the population compared with 37 percent in 2015. Poland, where the most significant European Jewish culture and population was completely wiped, still three in four respondents claimed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

In Hungary, where a nationalist government has campaigned against immigrants including accusations against Jewish tycoon George Soros, 25 percent of the population believe that “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting immigration to our country.” The overall antisemitic index in Hungary reached 42 percent, compared with 40 percent in 2015.

“It is most worrying that about one in four Europeans hold the same antisemitic attitudes that were prevalent even before the Holocaust,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the global executive director of the ADL. “This is a wakeup call that the fight against antisemitism must be addressed aggressively in these countries and there must be an increase in security measures for Jewish populations in those areas where the number of violent antisemitic incidents is on the rise,” Greenblatt said.

Examining negative attitudes toward Jews is only one part in the overall assessment of the ADL study. Other aspects examined include the number and nature of antisemitic incidents each year and surveys among Jewish communities as to the degree of antisemitism they are experiencing within their communities and in relation to government policy.

Here are some of the key findings of the updated 2019 survey:

Stereotypical perceptions of Jewish control over business and capital markets are among the most vicious and entrenched anti-Semitic notions. These perceptions are especially prevalent in countries surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe. When respondents were asked whether they agree with the saying “Jews have too much power in the business world,” no less than 72 percent of Ukrainians agreed, 71 percent of Hungarians, 56 percent of Poles and 50 percent of Russians all agreed.

Jewish betrayal of the nation in which they reside is another common antisemitic stereotype. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain more than 40 percent of the public believe that Jews are more loyal to the State of Israel than their own country. This concept is also very prevalent in Brazil (70 percent), South Africa (60 percent) and relatively high in Canada (25 percent) compared to the overall index of all countries which stands at 8 percent.

Antisemitic stereotypes were considerably higher among Muslims than other people groups – on average nearly three times in the six countries surveyed: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. At the same time, European Muslim antisemitism was significantly lower compared to the 2014 polls in the Middle East and North Africa where antisemitism was off the charts. Perhaps this can be attributed to Muslims being exposed to Jews in Europe, Holocaust studies and the social values ​​of acceptance and tolerance in those countries.

The survey found a significant reduction in antisemitism in Italy and Austria. In Italy there has been a 11 percent decline in antisemitic attitudes. In Austria there was an 8 percent decline. However, Belgium remained unchanged with 24 percent, Germany with 15 percent and Denmark with 10 percent.

In most European countries, few people blame Jews for immigration problems. However, the survey found that many respondents believe that their country’s traditions are in danger due to the flood of immigrants. This is especially common in Austria, Denmark, Hungary and the Netherlands where about half or more of the population believe that their country’s culture and tradition is threatened by immigrants. In South Africa, 41 percent agreed with the saying “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting immigrants entering our country.”

Support for the BDS campaign is still low

In all the countries surveyed – except for South Africa – support for the BDS campaign against the State of Israel was found to be relatively low. Despite the high levels of antisemitism in European countries, support for the boycott of Israel was less than 15 percent. In South Africa, a nation that experienced boycotts against their own apartheid-era governments, 38 percent of the population support the BDS campaign against Israel.

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