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Anti-Semitic stereotypes remain deeply entrenched across Europe, ADL survey finds

One-in-four people in European nations harbor extensive anti-Jewish attitudes; decline in anti-Semitic beliefs among Ukrainians

A swastika and a crossed-out Star of David are seen at a memorial. (Photo: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA)

A new survey measuring anti-Semitic attitudes across Europe has found that some of the most stubborn anti-Jewish tropes remain deeply entrenched in ten European countries. The survey, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), indicated that roughly one-in-four people residing in those countries harbor extensive classic anti-Semitic beliefs.

Among the six countries polled in Western Europe, Spain is ranked as the nation with the highest level of anti-Semitic attitudes, held by 26% of the population.

Respondents were presented with several statements and were asked to rate the extent to which they agree with them. The results showed that one-in-four people are likely to believe classic anti-Semitic stereotypes – particularly hateful beliefs about Jews and money, and Jews controlling the government.

Among other statements that appeared in the poll, respondents were asked if they agree that ‘Jews have too much power in the business world or the international financial markets’; ‘Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust’; ‘Jews don't care what happens to anyone but their own kind’; and ‘Jews think they are better than other people.’

Overall, the ADL survey has found that one out of three respondents in six Western European countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries.

Belgium came in second place after Spain, with 24% of its population harboring anti-Semitic attitudes, followed by France (17%), Germany (12%) and the United Kingdom (10%). The Netherlands registered the lowest score of the ten countries polled, with just 6% of respondents holding anti-Semitic views.

“It’s disturbing that so many Europeans continue to subscribe to some of the most dangerous antisemitic canards from history, including that Jews are inherently greedy, that they control government and finance, or are more loyal to Israel. And unfortunately, this has not gotten better since our last poll of the region in 2019,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “These noxious ideas historically motivated antisemitic attacks and should never be taken lightly, especially on a continent that witnessed the Holocaust.”

The European survey is the latest installment of The ADL Global 100: An Index of Antisemitism, first conducted in 2014, and is reportedly the most comprehensive poll on global anti-Semitic attitudes, encompassing some 102 countries and territories.

In Eastern Europe, anti-Semitic attitudes are even more firmly entrenched, the poll showed.

Despite modest declines in each of the four countries polled, there are still high levels of anti-Semitic beliefs in Hungary (37%), Poland (35%) and Russia with 26%, which represents nearly 30 million people.

The largest decline in hateful attitudes toward Jews was recorded in the war-torn nation of  Ukraine, where anti-Semitic attitudes dropped from a record high of 46% in 2019 to 29% in 2023. The ADL noted that the decline is potentially driven in part by the popularity of the Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“While the survey findings do not directly address questions of causality, there’s no doubt that having a Jewish president who is being praised for his response to Russian aggression seems to have affected perceptions of Jews among ordinary Ukrainian citizens,” said Greenblatt.

Another silver lining in the sobering results is that most Europeans seem to reject the use of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)  movement as a tactic to isolate the State of Israel. While many in Western European countries say they sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis, support for boycotting Israel was extremely low, according to the poll.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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