European anti-Semitism dipped after attacks on Jews, poll finds

ADL survey finds fall in anti-Jewish attitudes in France, Belgium and Germany, but lingering negative feelings about Jews elsewhere

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman presents a poll on global anti-Semitism, May 13, 2014 (ADL screenshot)
The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman presents a poll on global anti-Semitism, May 13, 2014 (ADL screenshot)

Anti-Semitic attitudes dropped significantly in France, Germany and Belgium during 2015 even as high profile attacks in Europe raised fears of a resurgence of anti-Jewish sentiment on the Continent, a survey released Tuesday showed.

However, the poll by the US-based Anti-Defamation League also found negative feelings about Jews remained at a constant level in most other countries surveyed.

The survey came after two deadly shooting incidents in a little over a year that targeted, among others, Jews in France and Belgium.

It sampled 10,000 people in 19 countries and was conducted between March 10 and April 3 this year.

France showed the biggest decrease, with anti-Semitic attitudes dropping to 17% compared with a figure of 37% from a survey in 2014.

Germany saw a dip from 27% the year before to 16% in 2015 and Belgium from 27% to 21%.

Abraham Foxman, outgoing head of the ADL, said the results pointed to a rebound effect in which countries where attacks took place rallied around their Jewish communities.

“The results indicate that heightened awareness of violence against Jews fosters a sense of solidarity with the Jewish community and that strong condemnation by political and civic leaders makes expressing anti-Semitism less acceptable,” he said in a statement.

The survey was a follow-up to the ADL Global 100 Index, which in 2014 polled people in 102 countries to gain a picture of global attitudes toward Jews. The survey found a strong prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes around the world, including in Europe.

In January 2015 a series of attacks by Islamic militants in France killed 16 people, including four Jews gunned down in a kosher supermarket. In May 2014 there people were shot dead at the Jewish Museum of Belgium by a radical Muslim, and fourth died later of his wounds.

In July 2014, a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was firebombed by pro-Palestinian activists, though a judge later determined the attack was not anti-Semitic.

“After the recent murders of Jews in Belgium and France and attacks on synagogues in Germany, we decided to look at the impact on anti-Semitic attitudes among the national population following high-profile violence against Jews and the condemnations by European leaders,” Foxman said.

For the first time the ADL also specifically polled Muslims residents in six Western European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK. The results found that anti-Semitism among Muslims in those countries was significantly higher than the rest of the population.

In those countries countries 55% of Muslims had anti-Semitic attitudes, with the most popular belief being that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets,” an opinion expressed by 70% of those polled.

By comparison, a 2014 survey in the Middle East and North Africa found anti-Semitic attitudes were expressed by 75% of the population.

Among the 19 countries sampled in the recent poll were nine in Western Europe and six in Eastern Europe. In addition, the ADL questioned residents in Argentina, the United States, Iran, and Turkey.

Those who responded “probably true” to six or more out of 11 suggested negative stereotypes about Jews were counted by the ADL as having anti-Semitic attitudes. The ADL has used an 11-question formula to gauge anti-Semitism in the US for the past 50 years.

Concerns about violence against Jews also increased by 20% in France compared to the year before, by 31% in Belgium and by 33% in Germany. Large majorities also expressed solidarity with Jewish victims of violence, the ADL said.

Many also saw animosity toward Jews as a threat to their entire society. In response to the statement “violence against Jews in this country affects everyone and is an attack on our way of life,” some 77% in France agreed, 68% in Belgium, and 78% in Germany. The majority of French people indicated that they believed their government was trying to combat anti-Semitism, as 69% agreed with the statement that “recently, my country’s government has been more active in confronting expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment.”

By contrast, Greece continued to show higher levels of anti-Jewish attitudes than any other European country, with 67% of the population holding anti-Semitic views, unchanged from the previous year.

Other countries showed a marked increase in anti-Semitism. In Romania, 47% showed anti-Semitic attitudes compared to 35% in 2014, Italy rose to 29% up from 20% the year before, and the Netherlands jumped to 11% from just 5% in 2014.

However, in Poland anti-Semitic views dropped to 37% from 45% in 2014. Likewise, in Russia, results showed 23% of the population harboring anti-Semitic attitudes, while the year before it was 30%.

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