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Survey on anti-Semitism in Europe is flawed, Hungary says

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BUDAPEST (JTA) — Hungarian officials questioned the methodology of a survey that showed greater fear of anti-Semitism among Jews in Hungary than in other European countries.

The head of the Hungarian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Gergely Prohle, raised “several questions with relation to methodology, strongly questioning its representative nature,”  according to a Nov. 12 statement by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry.

The statement concerned a survey published Nov. 8 by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency. Conducted online among 5,874 respondents who self-identified as Jews, it showed that Hungarian Jews were particularly worried about discrimination and that nearly half have considered emigrating.

In the statement, Prohle said the agency openly admitted to having methodology issues in its report. He quoted a statement from the report which reads: “This methodology is unable to deliver a random probability sample fulfilling the statistical criteria for representativeness,” and “the chosen survey mode is likely to have excluded some eligible members of the target population.”

In Hungary, where the anti-Semitic Jobbik party is third largest in parliament, 90 percent of 517 respondents said anti-Semitism was either a “fairly big problem”  or a “very big problem.” The average rating for the statement in all countries surveyed was only 66 percent.

Hungary, which is believed to have 100,000 Jews, also led in the number of Jews who said they had considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism, with 48 percent of Hungarian respondents replying in the affirmative compared to 18 percent in Britain and a 29-percent average overall.

“The survey was negative about Hungary,” Ferenc Kumin, Hungary’s deputy state secretary for international communication, said at a Nov. 13 news conference with Prohle in Budapest.

At the conference, Prohle said the survey was conducted in Hungary in 2012 and failed to reflect possible changes following steps by the Hungarian government to combat anti-Semitism.

“Having reconsidered the seriousness of the situation, the Hungarian government has since brought several important decisions designed to monitor and combat anti-Semitic phenomena,” Prohle said.

In addition, legislation has been introduced to regulate and sanction soccer hooliganism and anti-Semitic political statements, he added.

But Jewish community leaders said the elevated fear reflected in the report matched what they knew about the community.

“Members of our community already for a long time are aware of the existence and of the increase of anti-Semitism in Hungary,” Gyorgy Gador, the head of the Pava synagogue community, told the Nepszabadsag daily last week. “Many [Jews] left in recent years abroad, not only for existential-economic reason, but because of their uncomfortable political feeling here, at home,” he added.

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