Poll on antisemitism in Moldova shows much hostility alongside widespread affection

Nearly half of respondents in Eastern European country say they don’t like Jews but 40% indicate they ‘really like’ them

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

People chant slogans during a protest in Chisinau, Moldova, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)
People chant slogans during a protest in Chisinau, Moldova, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)

An apparent first poll on the Jewish community and antisemitism in Moldova published on Tuesday found mixed attitudes in the Eastern European nation.

In the poll among nearly 1,000 adults, published by the Brussels-based Action and Protection League and the European Jewish Association, 35% of respondents said they associate Jews with positive traits, whereas 19% noted negative ones.

This was, according to the group, the first poll of its sort ever conducted in the landlocked nation, which is sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania and where a Jewish minority of 1,900 accounts for 0.7% of the population.

A majority of the 923 respondents indicated that they were either neutral on Jews (27%) or associated them (35%) with “positive” qualities, including “respect, intelligent, smart, normal people, capable, ordinary, educated.”

The 19% percent who reported negative reactions associated Jews with such concepts as “greedy, calculating, cunning, traitors, crucifixion of Christ, bad people, foreign culture, charlatans, speculators, dirty, deceit, selfish.”

Just over half of respondents to the poll, conducted between October and November by the IMAS Moldova polling company, said they would have no problem with accepting a Jew into their family, whereas 33% said they would not (32%) or rather not (10%.)

Nearly half of respondents, or 48%, said they didn’t like Jews, with 13% saying they “really dislike” them, but 40% said they “really like” Jews. Compared to other ethnicities, Jews were more liked in the poll than Roma (28%), Poles (34%); immigrants (34%) and the Gagauz (39%), a Turkic ethnic group.

Multiple ethnic groups – including some that comprise Moldovan society – ranked higher than Jews in terms of the hostility of respondents to them. About half of all respondents in the poll, which has a 3.2% error margin, said they don’t like Romanians and Russians, 55% said this of Ukrainians and 64% said this of Roma people.

Addressing the findings on hostility toward Jews in Moldova, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director of the European Jewish Association lobby group, wrote in a statement that “deep-rooted antisemitism persists in Moldova. There can be no rational explanation as to why a community that represents such a tiny fraction of the overall population bears the brunt of such an alarmingly high number of stereotypes and tropes.”

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