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Austrian study finds 31% are biased against Jews — and that’s an improvement

Anti-Semitism poll commissioned by the government finds prejudice has dropped since 2018, but still records higher levels than similar sampling by the Anti-Defamation League

A fence in Vienna surrounds the statue of Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic former mayor of the Austrian capital, October 6, 2020. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images/JTA)
A fence in Vienna surrounds the statue of Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic former mayor of the Austrian capital, October 6, 2020. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images/JTA)

JTA — In a survey of anti-Semitic attitudes in Austria, 31 percent of the 2,000 respondents agreed with statements that the poll’s authors said exemplified anti-Jewish biases — a significant drop in that sentiment from a similar study in 2018.

The Austrian government commissioned the survey from the Institute for Empirical Social Studies and presented the results on Friday.

In the 2018 study, 46% of respondents agreed with the statements on anti-Semitic biases and 49% responded in ways that suggested the absence of anti-Semitic bias, Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the National Council of Austria, the lower house of the country’s parliament, said at a news conference in Vienna.

The survey, titled “Austria — Antisemitism 2020 study — results analysis,” included statements such as “Jews today try to take advantage of the fact that they were victims during the Nazi era” (28% agreed) and “Jews have too much influence in Austria” (11%).

The findings of the government-funded surveys showed a significantly higher prevalence of anti-Semitism than previous polling by the Anti-Defamation League. In its 2014 and 2019 surveys in Austria for the Global 100 Index, the prevalence of anti-Semitic opinions was 28% and 20% respectively.

In the ADL index, Austria was among the countries with the highest prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes in Western Europe. Its index rating was higher than the regional rate of 24% and much higher than in countries with low rates of anti-Semitism, such as the Netherlands (5%) and the United Kingdom (8%). The ADL rating for the United States was 9%.

In January, the Austrian government presented a national strategy on fighting rising anti-Semitism that includes improving the protection of synagogues, improved education about Judaism and stricter prosecution of hate crimes against Jews.

AP contributed to this report.

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