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Anti-Semitism — still

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The latest Pew Research Center survey of global attitudes on religion is out and the news is not good for Jews – or Muslims.

Anti-Jewish attitudes are up in most major European countries, with the highest numbers in Spain, Poland and Russia. Only British attitudes have remained constant in recent years. But the same is true about attitudes toward Muslims. And according to Pew, “there is a clear relationship between anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes: publics that view Jews unfavorably also tend to see Muslims in a negative light.”

But none of this comes as a big surprise. Similar studies in recent years have come up with similar numbers, give or take a few percentage points. A major report last year by Human Rights First went beyond the numbers to chide European countries for not doing more to halt the trend. See JTA’s analysis of that report.

But while anti-Jewish sentiments appear a constant (so what else is new in Jewish history?), some other troubling – though not necessarily surprising – findings have garnered less attention:

  • The deepest anti-Jewish sentiments exist outside of Europe, especially in predominantly Muslim nations. The percentage of Turks, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Pakistanis with favorable (my emphasis) opinions of Jews is in the single digits.
  • A majority in people in Jordan express a positive view of Hamas. But views of Hamas tend to be negative in Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.
  • Views of the militant Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah are overwhelmingly negative in Turkey, while slim majorities in Egypt and Jordan express positive views of Hezbollah. In Lebanon itself, Hezbollah is almost unanimously popular among the country’s Shia community, but is overwhelmingly unpopular among Sunnis and Christians.
  • Most Muslims continue to worry about the rise of Islamic extremism, both at home and abroad. Majorities in Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria say they are concerned about extremism in their own country and in other countries around the world.
  • Perhaps, in these troubled times, we should take comfort in this, though it’s hard to believe given the daily headlines:

    * Since 2002, the percentage saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justified to defend Islam from its enemies has declined in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed.

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