The level of anti-Semitic attitudes among the general population in France showed a dramatic decline this year, while Germany and Belgium registered significant reductions, according to a new poll from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released Tuesday.
The ADL thinks the change reflects the shock caused by the violence against Jews in Western Europe the past year, which included the murder of four Jews at the Hyper-Cacher food mart in Paris.
The ADL poll of adults in 19 countries, fielded March 10 through April 3, 2015, found minimal change in the levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in most of the countries sampled, however. This year's results were compared to those from a year ago, when the League polled 102 countries in a groundbreaking worldwide survey of anti-Semitism, the ADL Global 100 Index.
The most pronounced difference was found in France – scene of the horrific terror attacks earlier this year targeting Jews and journalists – where the number of those expressing anti-Semitic attitudes plummeted from 37 percent in 2014 to 17 percent in 2015.
Germany likewise experienced a decline from 27 to 16 percent, and Belgium from 27 to 21 percent. ADL polled an additional 500 respondents in each of these three countries to confirm the overall declines in anti-Semitic attitudes.
For the first time, the ADL poll measured Muslim attitudes toward Jews in six countries in Western Europe finding that acceptance of anti-Semitic stereotypes by Muslims in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain was substantially higher than among the national population in each country.
Awareness fosters solidarity
“After the recent murders of Jews in Belgium and France and attacks on synagogues in Germany, we decided to look at the impact on anti-Semitic attitudes among the national population following high-profile violence against Jews and the condemnations by European leaders,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
“The poll found a marked increase in concern about violence against Jews in all three countries,” Foxman explained. “The results indicate that heightened awareness of violence against Jews fosters a sense of solidarity with the Jewish community and that strong condemnation by political and civic leaders makes expressing anti-Semitism less acceptable. The ADL Global 100 Index is the benchmark of anti-Semitic attitudes around the world, and we plan to continue polling periodically to measure changes and the effect of events on anti-Jewish attitudes.”
The ADL polled 10,000 adults on their attitudes and opinions toward Jews in 19 countries, including nine countries in Western Europe and six countries in Eastern Europe. The poll also includes new findings for Argentina, the United States, Iran and Turkey. T
Respondents who answered “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews were deemed as holding anti-Semitic attitudes. The 11-question index has been used by ADL as a key metric in measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States for the last 50 years.
The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent in all countries, except the U.S., where the margin of error was +/- 3.2 percent.
Compared to the 2014 poll, concern about violence against Jews increased by 20 percent in France, 31 percent in Belgium, and 33 percent in Germany.
In France, Germany and Belgium, large majorities expressed solidarity with Jewish victims of violence. When asked whether, “violence against Jews in this country affects everyone and is an attack on our way of life,” 77 percent agreed in France, 68 percent in Belgium and 78 percent in Germany.
A majority of people (69 percent) in France agree that “recently, my country’s government has been more active in confronting expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment.”
Anti-Semitism up in Romania
Greece continues to show extremely high levels of anti-Semitism, scoring significantly higher than any other European country. In Greece, 67 percent of the population was found to harbor anti-Semitic attitudes (essentially unchanged from 69 percent in 2014).
The 2015 poll reported increases in anti-Semitic views beyond the margin of error in Romania (47 percent in 2015, up from 35 percent), in Italy (29 percent in 2015, up from 20 percent), and in The Netherlands (11 percent in 2015, up from 5 percent). Decreases in anti-Semitic views were found in Poland (37 percent in 2015, down from 45 percent), in Russia (23 percent in 2015, down from 30 percent, and in Ukraine (32 percent in 2015, down from 38 percent).
For the first time, the ADL poll measured Muslim attitudes in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain. An average of 55 percent of Western European Muslims harbored anti-Semitic attitudes. Acceptance of anti-Semitic stereotypes by Muslims in these countries was substantially higher than among the national population in each country, though lower than corresponding figures of 75 percent in 2014 for Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Interviews were conducted in those regions with significant Muslim populations in each country. The margin of error for Muslims in each country is +/-9.8 percent, and for the combined Western European Muslim oversample for all six countries is +/-4 percent.
Most prevalent was the belief that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” – an anti-Jewish canard affirmed by 70 percent of Western European Muslims.
On most conspiracy-related statements, scores of European and MENA Muslims showed little difference. On negative statements about Jewish character, e.g. “people hate Jews because of the way they behave” and “Jews think they are better than other people,” European Muslims scored substantially lower than MENA Muslims.
The anti-Semitism index scores were extremely high for Muslims in all six European countries where Muslims were sampled.
Belgium: 68 percent of Muslims harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, compared to 21 percent overall;
Spain: 62 percent, compared to 29 percent overall;
Germany: 56 percent, compared to 16 percent overall;
Italy: 56 percent, compared to 29 percent overall;
United Kingdom: 54 percent, compared to 12 percent overall;
France: 49 percent, compared to 17 percent overall.