France seen as more antisemitic than Poland in new poll among Israelis

Almost half of respondents say Poles were as much to blame for the Holocaust as Germans; Germany now seen as least antisemitic

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Students shout slogans and display a banner reading "Long live the student intifada" as they take part in an anti-Israel rally at the Sorbonne University in Paris on April 29, 2024. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP)
Students shout slogans and display a banner reading "Long live the student intifada" as they take part in an anti-Israel rally at the Sorbonne University in Paris on April 29, 2024. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP)

In a survey of 1,000 Israeli adults, 55% said French society was antisemitic, a figure significantly higher than their rating of the levels of Jew-hatred in Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

The survey, conducted online in February and March and published Thursday, is part of a larger poll headed by Gisela Dachs, a professor from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The polling comprises groups of 800-1,000 respondents in each of the five countries sampled: Israel, Germany, United Kingdom, France and Poland.

The Israelis sampled rated Germany as the least antisemitic, with only 21% of respondents saying its society was antisemitic, followed by Poland (38%) and the United Kingdom (40%).

The poll was published following months of anti-Israel mobilization in Western Europe in connection with Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza and exchanges of fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon since October 7, when Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200 Israelis and abducted another 253.

Poland and other Eastern European countries saw little if any of the massive street protests on display in the capitals of Western Europe. Earlier this week, a Polish teenager hurled a firebomb at the Nozyk synagogue in Warsaw. No one was hurt in the incident, which caused minor cosmetic damage to the building and which police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

Held ahead of Israel’s national Holocaust remembrance day, Yom Hashoah, the poll also explored how Israelis and Europeans viewed culpability in the genocide.

Asked whether “the Polish people [are] responsible for their Jewish neighbors being destroyed in the Holocaust,” 47% of Israelis replied: “Yes, exactly like the Germans,” and another 25% said “only partly.” Only 11% of Israelis surveyed said that the Polish nation was also a victim of the Holocaust, and another 18 gave no answer.

Fire damage is visible on the façade of the Nożyk Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. The synagogue was attacked with firebombs in the night by an unknown perpetrator (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

In Poland, by contrast, 60% of respondents said they viewed their countrymen as victims and saviors during the Holocaust. Another 12% of Poles said that Poland played a “decisive role” in the Holocaust, and another 12% said that Poland played a “minor role.” About 3% of Polish respondents in the poll, which has a maximum sampling error of 3.1%, did not answer the question.

Overall, the European respondents demonstrated high awareness of antisemitism, with 63% of the French respondents calling it a “significant issue.” In Germany, the figure was 59%, followed by the UK (48%) and Poland (30%).

In Germany, 45% of respondents said antisemitism came mainly from Muslim immigrants, whereas 48% blamed the far right. In the remaining European countries, Muslims were blamed by about a quarter of respondents and another quarter blamed the far right.

In France, 35% agreed with the statement that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, including 12% who strongly agreed with this statement. Only 9% disagreed, and 55% neither agreed nor disagreed. The loyalty statement was least popular in Poland, where 12% objected to it.

Fifty-nine percent of Polish and 41% of German respondents have never met a Jew or Israeli, they indicated in the poll, titled “HU-EF Barometer 2024.”
In Germany, approval of the government’s support for Israel in its military operation in Gaza had fewer supporters than opponents: Only 22% supported it (6% strongly) compared to 42% who opposed it, including 22% who opposed it strongly.

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