French Jews and Non-Jews deeply concerned about rising antisemitism - poll

73% of the French public and 72% of Jews ‘consider antisemitism a problem that affects all of French society.’

People attend a national gathering to protest antisemitism and the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the Place de la Republique in Paris. (photo credit: GONZALO FUENTES / REUTERS)
People attend a national gathering to protest antisemitism and the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the Place de la Republique in Paris.
There is a widening consensus among both Jews and non-Jews in France that antisemitism in the country is a serious problem.
According to a survey released by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Paris on Monday, nearly 73% of the French public, and 72% of Jews, “consider antisemitism a problem that affects all of French society.”
The survey also found that 47% of the general public and 67% of the Jewish respondents said the level of antisemitism in France is high, while 27% and 22%, respectively, say it is low.
The survey was conducted by IFOP, a leading polling firm, in partnership with Fondapol, a major French think tank. They polled 505 French Jews and 1027 French people between October 14 and November 19, 2019.
Asked about the response to antisemitism by elected officials, the survey found that Jews and the general public are in agreement about how it’s being handled.
Less than half Jewish and non-Jewish population have confidence in the way French President Emmanuel Macron and his government are dealing with antisemitism.
“Only 47% of Jews and 48% of the general public have confidence in the President of France tackling antisemitism,” AJC Paris said, adding that “46% of Jews and 41% of the public have confidence in the French government’s [approach], while 58% of Jews and 56% of the public [have faith] in local elected officials.”
Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, director of AJC Paris, said that “antisemitism has become a concern for French society as a whole.
“It is not considered anymore as only the concern of Jews,” she said in a statement. “We are not as alone as we could have felt in the past to fight this scourge.”
According to the AJC Paris survey, 70% of French Jews also commented that they have been victims of at least one antisemitic incident in their lifetime, while 64% said they had suffered antisemitic verbal abuse at least once, and 23% have been targets of physical violence on at least one occasion, with 10% said they had been attacked several times.
It also pointed it out that the younger generation of Jews, aged between 18 and 24, were on the “‘front line’ more than older cohorts in confronting antisemitism.”
The survey stated that 84% of this younger generation had suffered at last one antisemitic act, compared with 70% of all respondents; while 79% said they had suffered verbal abuse, compared with 64% of overall respondents not in this category, while 39% said they had faced an act of physical aggression, compared with 23% of the entire Jewish sample.
Visibly religious French Jews also said that they felt the most vulnerable, the survey stressed, with 74% of them saying they had been a victim of at least one act of verbal abuse, compared with 64% of the full Jewish sample.
The main locations where antisemitic incidents have occurred are in the street and at school. Just over half of those surveyed, 55%, said “they had been insulted or threatened on the street, and 59% said they had suffered physical abuse in the school,” with 54% saying they were victims of verbal abuse, and 26% saying they had been victims of antisemitic violence in schools.
The workplace was also found to be a hotbed for antisemitism, with 46% of Jews surveyed saying they had been victim to verbal abuse.
In a separate poll published late Monday by the French channel i24News, 60% of all Israelis said they believe that the lives of French Jews are unsafe, while 62% of Jewish respondents called for French Jews to immigrate to Israel.
The poll was released ahead of an event marking 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at Yad Vashem.
The survey, which was also conducted by the IFOP Research Institute polled 1020 Israelis from the Jewish and Arab population ahead of the conference.
It found that 68% of Jewish respondents, and 60% of all respondents, believed that the lives of French Jews are in danger. About seven percent of respondents believed it’s better for them to stay in their country.
Other concerning results found that 77% of Israeli respondents felt that the cause of antisemitism in France is because of Muslims – 92% who addressed this question were Jewish, while 15% were Arab.
Meanwhile, 61% of Israelis think that the far-Right are behind antisemitism, with 45% of Israelis saying the extreme leftists are behind antisemitism, while 22% saying Christians are behind antisemitism in the country.