Which country in Europe do Israelis think is the most antisemitic? – survey

Researchers from the Hebrew University share the results of a recent survey on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Antisemitic graffiti on a Jewish family house in the city center of Lyon in France. (photo credit: TWITTER)
Antisemitic graffiti on a Jewish family house in the city center of Lyon in France.
(photo credit: TWITTER)

France is the most antisemitic country in Europe, according to a recent survey by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s European Forum.

The survey of 1,006 Israeli Jewish and Arab adults on their perceptions of antisemitism in Europe and how it influences EU policies and criticism of Israel found that 39% of the respondents felt France was the most antisemitic country in Europe, while 33% felt it was Poland. Germany ranked third, with 15% of respondents considering it to be the most antisemitic country, though haredi Orthodox Jews were most likely to rank Germany above any other.

National-Religious and traditional Jews perceived France to be the most antisemitic, and secular Jews felt Poland was the worst offender. Arab participants perceived Poland and Germany to be the most antisemitic of all European countries.

“While the majority of Israelis see a link between criticism of Israeli and European policies and antisemitism, the respondents were much more nuanced than Israel’s politicians,” said Gisela Dachs, the principal author of the survey and professor at the Hebrew University’s European Forum. “Israelis who are familiar with Europe also know how to distinguish among the various countries and that is reflected here in the survey.”

Dachs said the perception of France as topping the list of antisemitic European nations “did not surprise me. For a long time, it’s been an open secret that France is rife with antisemitism, and not just among the far-right politicians and populations. Since Israel’s Second Intifada in 2000, French Jews have started to feel there may be no future for the younger generation in France, and quite a few have emigrated to Israel to maintain their Jewish identity.”

Over half of Jewish respondents (53%) viewed antisemitism in Europe as something that will continue to worsen, and 25% viewed the situation as something that will stay the same. A correlation was found between respondents’ ages, level of religious observance, and how pessimistic they were in regard to the situation.

Over half (52%) of the Arab respondents polled felt that the level of antisemitism in Europe will stay the same, while 20% even felt the situation for Jews would improve.

On the subject of how criticism of Israel relates to antisemitism, only one-third of Jewish respondents felt that there is a direct link, though more than half felt that there is at least sometimes a connection.

 DEMONSTRATORS RALLY in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in May. (credit: Christian Mang/Reuters) DEMONSTRATORS RALLY in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in May. (credit: Christian Mang/Reuters)

When it comes to antisemitism within EU policies, 27% of Jewish respondents felt that there is no antisemitism in this area, an equal number of respondents felt that EU policies are antisemitic, and 40% perceived that antisemitism within EU policies varies. A majority of the Arabs polled (53%) felt there was no antisemitic motivation behind EU policies. also shared an interpretation of the results, 

“This survey reveals the urgency of studying the multidimensionality of Israeli-European relation,” said sociologist and Director of Hebrew University’s European Forum Gili Drori. “We see that alongside the very strong trade relations and formal agreements between Israel and Europe, Israelis observe the rise of antisemitism and the growing power of the political right in Europe with great alarm.”

The fieldwork was done by the Public Opinion Research Institute and partly funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Jerusalem. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews completed in the homes of a random sample of the population.