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'47% of Germans think Israel exterminating Palestinians'

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March 16, 2011 02:52

Study shows a strong presence of “anti-Semitism that is linked with Israel and is hidden behind criticism of Israel" in Europe.

Supporters of the Hungarian radical right-wing

Hungarian Rebels Rally 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS)

BERLIN – A think-tank affiliated with Germany’s Social Democratic Party issued a new report last week that revealed high levels of anti-Semitism in Germany, Poland and Hungary, as well as varying manifestations of racism, homophobia and prejudice in eight European countries.

Dr. Beate Küpper, a researcher from the University of Bielefeld who co-authored the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s study along with her colleagues Andreas Zick and Andreas Hoevermann, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the study showed a strong presence of “anti-Semitism that is linked with Israel and is hidden behind criticism of Israel, and is not neutral.”



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She termed the outbreak of Jew-hatred in Germany “remarkable” because there were widespread Holocaust remembrance and education events in Germany.

The study – “Intolerance, Prejudice, Discrimination: A European Report” –questioned roughly 1,000 people in each of the selected EU countries.

The investigation was limited to Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and France due to financial restrictions and requisite expertise in each country to track anti-democratic attitudes, according to Küpper.

Asked to respond to the statement that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” 47.7 percent of the study’s participants in Germany expressed agreement – the highest number in Western Europe.

The statement is a typical question used to probe attitudes about equating Israel with the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jewry.

The US State Department defines the comparison as an expression of modern anti- Semitism, as does the European Union.

Given Poland’s lukewarm foreign policy toward Israel, the finding that 63.3% of the Poles questioned agree that Israel is seeking to obliterate Palestinians may be deeply alarming to some.

The statement “Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews” met with 35.6% affirmation in Germany, while 35.9% of British respondents were in agreement. In the Netherlands, 41.1% favored the assertion, as did 55.2% in Poland, 45.6% in Hungary and 48.8% in Portugal. France declined to participate.

The researchers also asked whether “Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era.”

Almost half the Germans questioned responded in the affirmative; the country’s 48.9% result was the highest among the Western European countries. The Netherlands provided the lowest percentage, with 17.2% affirming that Jews were trying to exploit the Nazi era. The number for Poland was 72.2%, and Hungary reached 68.1%. France reached 32.3%, England 21.8%, Portugal 52.2% and Italy 40.2%.

Küpper said that Poland and Hungary were also plagued by extraordinary levels of sexism and homophobia. In response to the statement that “there is nothing immoral about homosexuality,” 75.8 % of Poles and 67.7% of Hungarians disagreed. The Netherlands showed the greatest acceptance of homosexuality, as 16.5% disagreed with the statement. Asked whether “it is a good thing to allow marriages between two men or two women,” Poland (88.2%) and Hungary (69.3%) showed the highest negative response.

Here, too, The Netherlands had the highest acceptance of same-sex marriage rights, with a mere 17% disagreeing.

Asked about the reasons for anti-Semitism – particularly in Germany, where there has been intensive Holocaust education – Küpper said the factors explaining anti-Semitism were not analyzed in the study.

However, some academics in Germany frequently invoke the notion of “secondary anti- Semitism” – that Germans are filled with pathological guilt about the Holocaust and shift the blame to Jews and Israel to assuage their complexes – to explain the disconnect between Holocaust remembrance events and the rising hatred of Jews and Israel in the Federal Republic. The theory’s proponents say it would account for the disproportionate criticism of Israel in the German media and German parliamentary legislative action targeting the Jewish state over seizing the Mavi Marmara.

A handful of German scholars, including Dr. Lars Rensmann, Dr. Matthias Küntzel and Dr. Clemens Heni, have investigated the phenomenon of secondary anti-Semitism in their writings.

Heni told the Post on Monday that “the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation study is based on the so-called ‘group-oriented enmity.’ This is a mainstream concept in Germany, introduced by Wilhelm Heitmeyer, among others, some 10 years ago, to downplay anti-Semitism and to equate genocidal anti-Semitism with enmity against jobless people, homosexuals, women and foreigners.”

He said it was “a ridiculous concept” because, for example, “equating anti-Semitism with enmity toward Islam is an obfuscation of Islamic and Muslim anti-Semitism. We have a steadily increasing number of Muslims in Europe, while Jews – like in the Netherlands – are thinking of leaving this continent due to anti- Semitic incidents and a political culture based on hatred of Jews.”

According to Heni, “the study seems to be reluctant to deal honestly with new anti- Semitism, which is a component of political Islam as well as left-wing and mainstream anti-Zionism in the West.”

He used the term “lethal obsession” from the Hebrew University’s Prof. Robert Wistrich, an international authority on anti-Semitism, to describe what differentiated anti-Semitism from xenophobia and other forms of hatred.

“The new anti-Semitism is spread not just by neo-Nazis,” Heni said, but also “by mainstream left-wing members of parliament, left-wing activists, extremist Muslims and the European elites likewise.”
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