European Jews in Belgium
European Jews in BelgiumFlash 90

A new survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that antisemitic stereotypes remain deeply entrenched across Europe.

The study also found that one in four residents of European countries harbor extensive anti-Jewish attitudes

“Some of the most stubborn anti-Jewish tropes remain deeply entrenched in 10 European countries,” ADL said.

The survey noted that one out of three respondents in six Western European countries believed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries.

In Spain, one in four people are likely to believe classic antisemitic stereotypes, the study found, including particularly hateful beliefs about Jews and money and Jews controlling the government.

“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,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “These noxious ideas historically motivated antisemitic attacks and should never be taken lightly, especially on a continent that witnessed the Holocaust.”

The European survey, part of “The ADL Global 100: An Index of Antisemitism,” first conducted in 2014, is the “most extensive poll on global antisemitic attitudes ever conducted, encompassing 102 countries and territories,” according to the advocacy organization.

Consistent with previous surveys, among the six countries polled in Western Europe, Spain remains the country with the highest level of antisemitic attitudes, with 26 percent of the population harboring extensive antisemitic beliefs, followed by Belgium (24 percent), France (17 percent), Germany (12 percent) and the United Kingdom (10 percent). The Netherlands registered the lowest score of the 10 countries polled for the antisemitism index, with just 6 percent of those polled holding antisemitic views.

According to ADL, in Eastern Europe, antisemitic attitudes are even more firmly entrenched. Despite modest declines in each of the four countries polled, there are still high levels of antisemitic beliefs in Hungary (37 percent), Poland (35 percent) and Russia (26 percent).

The largest decline in hateful attitudes toward Jews was recorded in Ukraine, the survey found, where antisemitic attitudes dropped from a record high of 46 percent in 2019 to 29 percent in 2023. The significant decline was “potentially driven in part by the popularity of the Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose approval ratings have risen dramatically over the last few years in response to his defiance in the face of Russian military attacks.”

“The dramatic improvement in antisemitic attitudes in Ukraine seems linked to the popularity of President Zelensky, a leader who is both proudly Jewish and public about his heritage,” said Greenblatt. “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.”

Other key findings of the European Global 100 Survey included that the dual loyalty trope is the most commonly held antisemitic stereotype in Western and Eastern Europe, with “wide swaths of the population believing that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country.” This was the case in Western Europe, with over half of Spaniards (56 percent), 46 percent in Belgium, 38 percent in the Netherlands, 37 percent in France, and 34 percent in the UK; and in Eastern Europe, with 62 percent in Poland, 48 percent in Hungary, 38 percent in Ukraine and 36 percent in Russia.

According to ADL, Holocaust awareness is virtually universal across Europe, but Holocaust denial is markedly higher in Eastern Europe. In Hungary and Ukraine, 19 percent of those polled agreed with the statement that “the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen,” or said the numbers of Jews who died were “greatly exaggerated.” In Russia and Poland, those denying the Holocaust were at 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Germany and the Netherlands came in lowest for Holocaust denial, at 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

“Many, if not most, countries in Europe still have a long way to go in educating their people about the sordid history and current-day reality of antisemitism,” ADL Senior VP of International Affairs Marina Rosenberg said. “Jewish life continues in many of these countries, and we need to ensure that their governments are doing everything they can to provide a safe and secure future for their Jewish citizens.”