In a poll commissioned in the direct aftermath of January’s Paris terrorist attacks, 9 percent of young British adults said they considered it very likely there will be another Holocaust in their lifetimes. Another 15% polled in the European Jewish Congress-sponsored online survey indicated a Holocaust is somewhat likely, forming a combined total of 24% who entertain the possibility of a large-scale Jewish genocide.
The poll of 504 United Kingdom citizens aged 18-35 was commissioned by the EJC, an umbrella organization representing some 2.5 million European Jews, ahead of its emergency pan-European Forum in Prague on January 26.
In the wake of Paris’s January 7 Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent January 9 Jewish HyperCacher supermarket murders, the forum is set to discuss rising anti-Semitism and growing hate, racism and religious extremism in Europe.
“The most worrying aspect of this survey is that a repeat of the Holocaust is no longer something outside of our wildest nightmares, and that view is shared by a significant amount of British young adults,” said EJC president Moshe Kantor at the survey’s release.
The recent EJC poll supports the recent findings of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) survey of 3,411 adults released on January 14, which found anti-Semitic views to be common among British people. In the CAA survey, 45% of those polled believed at least one statement that is defined as anti-Semitic.
This week’s EJC poll is perhaps even more troubling. In it, 53% of those surveyed affirmed anti-Semitism exists in the UK using the Anti-Defamation League’s definition as baseline — “Anti-Semitism is the prejudice against, hatred of or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group.”
This was born out later in the survey, which asked if Jewish businesses should be marked as such, or if Jewish UK citizens should carry IDs labeling themselves as Jews. To both questions an astounding 15% — the same percentage of respondents who said they need more proof for the veracity of the Holocaust — answered in the affirmative.
To round out a growing xenophobic British picture, when asked whether Muslims and their businesses should be likewise singled out, 22% said yes.
“The fact that one in five or six British respondents would want to enact legal discriminatory laws against Jews and Muslims and force them to be openly identified and stigmatized as Jews were in Nazi Germany should shock us into action,” said Kantor.
In the same vein, those surveyed were told that prior to the Holocaust Germany began instituting anti-Jewish legislation. Asked if they felt similar laws could be passed in Europe today, 25% felt it likely.
‘We need to harness European leadership to… a practical roadmap that deals holistically with all the threats and utilizes all tools available’
“These shocking results demonstrate that now more than ever we need actions to prevent a further descent into anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia,” said Kantor. “We need to harness European leadership to a high-level meeting to discuss strong and robust measures to combat anti-Semitism, discrimination and hate and a practical roadmap that deals holistically with all the threats and utilizes all tools available.”
One tool at leaders’ disposal is education. Only 60% of respondents said they were taught about the Holocaust in school, although some 31% are university graduates. And obviously not all retained their lessons: When asked how many Jews were killed, and given the choices ranging from 100,000 to six million, only 40% could correctly identify this key fact.
Happily, British young adults are widely supportive of commemorating the Holocaust — some 87%. Unfortunately, however, only 29% knew that there already is an International Holocaust Memorial Day, set for next week on January 27.