Frenchmen Holding Anti-semitic Views Remain Same During Past Five Years

The proportion of Frenchmen holding anti-Semitic attitudes has remained relatively static during the past five years even though relations between France and Israel have become strained and the late President Charles de Gaulle made statements widely considered anti-Semitic, according to the findings of an opinion poll on French attitudes toward Jews reported here today by the American Jewish Committee. The poll was conducted by a leading French survey organization (SOFRES) in consultation with AJCommittee’s European office in Paris. The findings were intended as background for the second edition of a book titled “Guide Juif de Franc” to be published shortly. They have also been released in the French newspaper Le Figaro. Among the conclusions of the survey were the following. As in a poll taken in 1966, about 10 percent of the respondents were openly anti-Semitic, while 20 percent demonstrated tacitly hostile attitudes to Jews. In answer to a question on the desirability of a Jewish presence in France 39 percent declared they would not care if there were many more Jews in the country; 21 percent said the number had no importance; 17 percent felt that the number should not increase; 12 percent said that France would be better off with fewer Jews; and 11 percent had no opinion. On the sensitive subject of “double allegiance,” 69 percent of the respondents thought that “a Jew considered himself a Jew before considering himself a Frenchman”; 12 percent believed he considered himself a Frenchman first; 19 percent had no opinion. However, the survey revealed 58 percent of the respondents believed that “a Breton considers himself Breton before considering himself French.” and 45 percent felt this was also true of Basques in France.

Fifty-three percent of the French felt that those Jews who have such sympathies for Israel should go and live there. However, when asked if they themselves would do so if they were Jewish, only 37 percent said they would. When asked which groups in society had special chances for success, only 5 percent of the respondents mentioned Jews spontaneously. Selecting from a given list those groups they believed to have special influence in the country 40 percent chose bankers, 28 percent intellectuals, 25 percent the Catholic Church, 20 percent the Communists and 16 percent the Jews. On the question as to whether being a Jew would harm a person in a political career in France, 46 percent said this was unimportant, 15 percent said it might be harmful, 11 percent were sure it was harmful, and 13 percent felt it would make a political career easier. These figures would seem to indicate a growing acceptance of Jews in politics, contrasting with a 1966 poll in which 50 percent of the French said they would not vote for a Jew as president of the Republic, and 33 percent said they would not vote for a Jewish deputy. A final question in the survey indicated that slightly more than 25 percent of those questioned had Jewish friends or acquaintances or business associates, although the figure rose to 70 percent among those respondents on the highest educational levels.

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