Political support for Israel has increased significantly among Jewish community leaders in Europe, according to a survey published Tuesday.
The increase was reflected in the Fourth Survey of European Jewish Community Leaders and Professionals of 2018 by the International Center for Community Development of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, or JDC.
Of the 893 respondents from 28 European countries and Turkey, 68 percent agreed with the statement “I support Israel fully, regardless of how its government behaves.” In the 2008, 2011 and 2015 surveys, the same statement received 61, 56, and 55 percent approval respectively.
Only 42 percent of respondents concurred with the statement “I am sometimes ashamed of the actions of the Israeli government,” compared to 51 percent in 2015. In Western Europe, only 11 percent of respondents said their communities featured a “great degree of divisiveness over Israel.” The figure was 1 percent in Eastern Europe.
Across Western Europe, Jewish community leaders have said that Islamist attacks in their part of the world have sensitized locals to the dilemmas facing Israel and its actions.
The respondents’ answers on their feeling of security suggest it has gradually declined since 2008, when the first survey was published, with 20 percent this year saying they felt ”very safe to live and practice as a Jew” in their city. A decade ago, the figure was 36 percent, but it had dropped to 22 percent in 2011 and 2015. Those saying they felt “rather unsafe” rose to 13 percent this year from 6 percent in 2008.
Still, anti-Semitism was ranked as only the sixth most serious threat to the future of Jewish life by the respondents in their countries, with 56 percent of them describing it as such. The top threat, at 66 percent, was “Alienation of Jews from the Jewish community life,” followed by “Demographic decline” at 65 percent.
Still, concern about anti-Semitism showed the largest increase, to 56 percent from 23 percent a decade ago.
Nearly three quarters of respondents said their national government’s response to their security needs was adequate. Slightly more than three quarters said they had not considered emigrating over the past five years. But 52 percent said they expected an increase in emigration by Jews from their country. Nearly a quarter said anti-Semitism is the main reason for emigration by Jews from their countries.
Amid rising concern over anti-Semitism, JDC wrote in a statement about the study, “one can also see a commitment to investments in the future of these communities and a determination to remain in Europe rather than emigrate.”