About one in four Europeans polled harbor pernicious and pervasive attitudes toward Jews, according to a new global survey on anti-Semitism commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
While anti-Semitic attitudes held mostly steady in Western Europe, the poll found hateful notions about Jews are rising in Eastern and Central European countries polled, where long-held tropes about Jewish control of business and finance and of “dual loyalty” remain widespread.
The poll of 18 countries, which is part of the ADL Global 100 Index, was fielded between April and June 2019 in Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. European and other countries with significant Jewish populations were selected for the 2019 survey. Using an 11-question index that has served as a benchmark for previous ADL polling around the world since 1964, the survey of more than 9,000 adults found that anti-Semitic attitudes in Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine have seen marked increases since the last Global 100 survey.
In the Eastern and Central European countries surveyed, the trope of “Jewish power” in business and the “dual loyalty” canard are especially widespread, and many people in those countries also believe that Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust.
In Poland, where restitution of Holocaust-era Jewish property and a controversial law on Holocaust speech were widely debated in recent years, anti-Semitic attitudes rose to 48 percent of the population, up from 37 percent in 2015. Roughly three out of four respondents in Poland agreed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
In Hungary, where a nationalist government ran anti-immigrant billboard campaigns featuring Jewish financier George Soros, 25 percent of the population believes “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting more immigrants coming to our country.” Hungary had an overall index score of 42 percent, compared to 40 percent in 2015.
“It is deeply concerning that approximately one in four Europeans harbor the types of anti-Semitic beliefs that have endured since before the Holocaust,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “These findings serve as a powerful wake-up call that much work remains to be done to educate broad swaths of the populations in many of these countries to reject bigotry, in addition to addressing the pressing security needs where violent incidents are rising.”
Since the ADL Global 100 Index survey conducted in 2015, anti-Semitic attitudes have significantly increased in Ukraine (up 14 percent), Poland (up 11 percent), South Africa and Brazil (both up 9 percent), Russia (up 8 percent) and Argentina (up 6 percent). Meanwhile, anti-Semitic attitudes saw significant declines in Italy (down 11 percent), Austria (down 8 percent) and Canada (down 6 percent).
Negative attitudes toward Jews are one part of ADL’s overall assessment of levels of anti-Semitism in a country. ADL also considers the number and nature of anti-Semitic incidents annually, polls of Jewish communities about their experiences of anti-Semitism in their communities, government policies, and other factors.
Among the 2019 Global 100 poll’s key findings:
- Anti-Semitic attitudes remain pervasive in Europe. Roughly one out of every four residents of the 14 European countries polled by ADL fall into the most anti-Semitic category, subscribing to a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes tested in the index.
- Stereotypes about Jewish control of business and the financial markets are among the most pernicious and enduring anti-Semitic beliefs. These are especially widespread in the Central and Eastern European countries surveyed. Asked whether they agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” a staggering 72 percent of Ukrainians agreed, as did 71 percent of Hungarians, 56 percent of Poles, and 50 percent of Russians.
- Jewish “disloyalty” is a widespread anti-Semitic stereotype in the Western European countries surveyed. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, more than 40 percent of the public believes that Jews are more loyal to the State of Israel than to their own country. This canard also scored high in Brazil (70 percent), South Africa (60 percent), and relatively high in Canada (25 percent) compared to its overall index score of 8 percent.
- “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” was a statement supported by large segments of the populations of many of the European countries polled, even in Germany, where 42 percent of the population agreed. This sentiment was also prevalent in Austria (44 percent), Belgium (40 percent) Italy (38 percent) and Spain (37 percent).
- Political discourse influences anti-Semitism. Holocaust remembrance and restitution issues have been prominent political topics in Poland over the past few years. Asked whether “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust,” the number of Poles who agreed rose from 61 percent in 2015 to 74 percent in 2019. By comparison, on the same question, Sweden registered 15 percent, the U.K. 18 percent, and the Netherlands 31 percent.
- Muslim acceptance of anti-Semitic stereotypes was substantially higher than among the national populations -- on average almost three times as high -- in the six countries tested: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. At the same time,the scores for European Muslims were significantly lower than for respondents in the Middle East and North Africa region polled in 2014, possibly reflecting the impact of Holocaust education, exposure to Jews, and societal values of acceptance and tolerance.
The poll found significant decreases in Italy and Austria. In Italy, anti-Semitic attitudes fell 11 percent; in Austria, they decreased 8 percent. Overall, such attitudes remained virtually unchanged in Belgium, at 24 percent; Germany, at 15 percent; and Denmark, at 10 percent.
In most European countries, few blame Jews for immigration problems. However, the poll found that many respondents feel their country’s traditions are being threatened by an influx of immigrants. This was particularly true in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, and the Netherlands where roughly half or more of the population believe that the culture and traditions of their country are being threatened by immigration. In South Africa, 41 percent agreed with the assertion that “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting immigrants coming to our country.”
Support for BDS Campaign is Extremely Low
Across all the countries surveyed – except for South Africa – support for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel was found to be extremely low. In most European countries, support for the boycott of Israel was less than 15 percent.
In Europe, support for Israel boycotts was found to be highest in Belgium, where 18 percent said they supported BDS; and in Denmark, Sweden and the U.K., where support for the boycott hovered around 15 percent. In South Africa, where divestment and boycotts were used against the apartheid-era government, 38 percent of the population supports the BDS campaign against Israel.
ADL commissioned First International Resources to update attitudes and opinions toward Jewish people in 18 countries around the world. Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted and coordinated fieldwork and data collection for this public opinion project. A total of 9,056 adults were interviewed between April 15 – June 3, 2019.