Anti-Semitic Stereotypes Still Hold Sway Across Europe

european anti-semitism

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November 29, 2018

By Andrew Srulevitch | Director of European Affairs

A new CNN survey released just this week on anti-Semitism in Europe found widespread acceptance of anti-Semitic stereotypes, poor knowledge of the Holocaust, and barely a majority (54%) in favor of the very existence of Israel.  The findings support those of previous polls fielded in Europe by the Anti-Defamation League.

While CNN used somewhat different questions from ADL’s Global 100 surveys in 2014 and 2015, all three polls found significant numbers of Europeans believe in classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.  The CNN poll, for example, found that Europeans believe:

  • Jews have too much influence in business and finance (28 percent of adults);
  • Jews have too much influence in media (20 percent of adults);
  • Jews themselves are responsible for anti-Semitism; and
  • Jews influence wars around the world. 

The CNN findings are the latest disturbing news over the past weeks and months for Jews in Europe.

This week a survey of the Dutch Jewish community found that 1 in 9 Jews have experienced anti-Semitic violence.  Almost half hide that they are Jewish when in public.

Two weeks ago the French government announced a 69% increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the first 9 months of this year.

In September, a poll of British Jews found that almost 40% would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister.  Labour has been engulfed in an anti-Semitism crisis since Corbyn took over leadership of the party.

In less than two weeks, we will see new and important data on anti-Semitism’s effects on Europe’s Jews. On December 10, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) will release a major survey of European Jewish communities’ experiences with anti-Semitism, a follow up to their ground-breaking 2013 report, which found that:

  • 33% of European Jews worried about being physically assaulted because they were Jewish;
  • 18% had been subject to in-person anti-Semitic threats or harassment over the prior 12 months;
  • 38% frequently or always avoided wearing a kippah or Star of David necklace in public; and
  • 29% had considered emigrating over the prior 5 years.

Since the 2013 report, anti-Semitic murders have occurred in France (at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, Sarah Halimi, Mireille Knoll), at the Jewish Museum in Belgium, and at Copenhagen’s synagogue.  Anti-Semitic assaults in the UK doubled from 2013 (69) to 2017 (145).  In Sweden, synagogues have been firebombed and neo-Nazi harassment forced a Jewish community center to close.  Poland’s Jewish community issued an open letter earlier this year, stating “Polish Jews do not feel safe in Poland.”

These traumatic events are likely to cause the 2018 FRA report results to be even more alarming.

After that report is published, the fundamental questions will remain. What actions will European governments take to reverse this dangerous trend? And will those actions be sufficient to protect and preserve Europe’s Jewish communities?