Most French Still See Jews Stereotypically, Poll Finds

A majority of the French population clings to stereotypical images of Jews, some of them bordering on anti-Semitism, according to a survey taken last month, but the overall feeling has become friendlier of late.

The results of the survey by Sofres, France’s largest public opinion polling organization, were published Monday in the Jewish weekly Tribune Juive on the occasion of its 1,000th issue.

“The Jewish image is still linked to three terms: money, tradition and a cosmopolitan link to world Jewry,” said Professor Emeric Deutsch, head of Sofres.

Deutsch reported at a news conference that 72 percent of the 1,000 persons questioned agreed that “Jews represent an international power as they help each other in overlapping frontiers.” Jews were “linked to international capitalism” by 57 percent, and 48 percent thought Jews “tend to help each other to the detriment of other people.”

While 91 percent described Jews as “very attached to their traditions” and 85 percent saw that as positive, 26 percent said that without Jews “France would be culturally poor,” compared to 45 percent who disagreed and 29 percent with no opinion.

The poll found that most French people associate Jews with three traits — “smart” in a slightly pejorative sense, 47 percent; “money-loving,” 43 percent; and intelligent, 36 percent. Other traits scored lower: well educated and patriotic, 19 percent; and generous, 8 percent.

According to Deutsch, the poll showed a clear split between the major political parties in their attitudes toward Jews. “The Socialists continue to have a generally tolerant approach, traditional since the days of Socialist leader Jean Jaures, while the right has changed, but continues to harbor certain basic prejudices and misconceptions,” Deutsch said.

He added that the overall results seemed to show that the younger generation is more tolerant regarding Jews than are older French.

Tribune Juive, which commissioned the poll, was founded in Strassbourg in 1945. It is now published in Paris and has slightly more than 15,000 subscribers. Its editor and publisher is Rabbi Jacquot Grunewald.

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