FRANCE’S THEN interior minister Brice Hortefeux walks next to a tombstone desecrated by vandals with a Nazi swastika and the slogan ‘Jews out’ in the Jewish Cemetery of Cronenbourg near Strasbourg in 2010.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A poll by CNN has demonstrated a worryingly high prevalence of antisemitic attitudes around Europe, with significant percentages of people believing that Jews are too influential in politics and media.
In addition, high numbers of Europeans blame antisemitism on Jews, saying it is a reaction to how they behave, while a disturbingly high number of young Europeans have not heard of the Holocaust.
Numerous Jewish leaders around the world expressed deep concern over the findings, with Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog insisting that the results of the poll underline the importance of Holocaust education and government action to combat antisemitism.
The results emerged from a comprehensive poll conducted by CNN/ComRes, which sampled 7,000 Europeans from Austria, France, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.
According to the poll, only 10% said they had an unfavorable attitude toward Jews, although that figure rose to 15% in Poland and 19% in Hungary.
Despite this, traditionally antisemitic opinions remain widespread.
According to the poll, approximately 33% of those surveyed said Jews were too influential in political affairs around the world, and more than 25% of Poles and Hungarians said they had too much influence in the media.
A third of Austrians said Jews have too much influence over financial matters, as well as 25% of all French and Germans who agreed.
Additionally, 20% of all Europeans believe Jews have too much influence over media, while 25% said they had too much influence over wars and conflicts.
At the same time, almost a fifth of Europeans, some 18%, blame antisemitism in their respective countries on Jewish behavior, while 33% said they believe that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals.
A third of those surveyed said that Israel uses the Holocaust to justify its actions, with 50% of Polish respondents agreeing, and only 20% disagreeing.
And a third of Europeans said supporters of Israel use accusations of antisemitism to shut down criticism of Israel, while only 10% said that was not true.
In addition, 20% of European youths and young adults, 18-34, have never heard of the Holocaust, while in total one in 20 Europeans have never heard of it at all.
Nevertheless, 66% of Europeans said that commemorating the Holocaust helps ensure that such atrocities will never happen again, and half said it helps combat antisemitism.
Although antisemitic opinions appear to be widespread on the continent, the poll found that even higher numbers of Europeans have xenophobic and racist feelings toward other minorities as well.
While 10% of Europeans said they had unfavorable views of Jews, 39% said they had unfavorable views of Romani people, 37% had negative views of Muslims, 36% said they had unfavorable views of immigrants, and 16% said they had negative views of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Herzog said in response to the survey that governments need to do more to combat antisemitism, in particular by including Holocaust studies as part of school curricula across Europe.
“Antisemitism is one of the oldest diseases – racism being another such disease – for which there is no vaccine,” Herzog said.
“This disease must be fought before it spreads, and becomes a pandemic. History teaches that if antisemitism isn’t dealt with at an early stage, it will threaten people’s lives, as we saw in Pittsburgh
.I call upon the enlightened leaders of the world to take the gloves off, and work immediately and strongly against the worrying signs of antisemitism that can be seen in various countries.”
World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said that it was “insufferable” that 75 years after the Holocaust, antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes persist.
“We have long been alarmed by the resurgence of antisemitism, and this recent poll underscores our ongoing concern,” he said.
“There can be no confusion in the fact that accusing Israel of exploiting the brutal murder of six million Jews for its own gains is nothing short of blood libel and the worst forms of xenophobia.”
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