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In Europe, Anti-semitic Stereotypes Not a Thing of the Past, Says New Poll

July 1, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Thirty percent of Europeans cling to traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes, according to a poll by the Anti-Defamation League.

The poll of 2,500 Europeans in five countries also found that 62 percent of respondents believe the recent violence against Jews in Europe is a result of anti-Israel sentiment.

“These findings are especially disturbing because they show that the old, classical form of anti-Semitism has been joined by a new form fueled by anti-Israel sentiment,” said Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director.

The survey, the first such poll the ADL has conducted in Europe, was taken from May 16 to June 4, as a series of suicide bombings and Israeli military operations dominated global news.

Pollsters conducted 2,500 telephone interviews — 500 each from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The 30 percent was an average of answers to four questions that measured more traditional anti-Jewish stereotype.

For example, 45 percent of Europeans believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, and 16 percent said Jews are more willing than others to use shady business practices to get what they want.

In addition, 39 percent of Europeans believe Jews talk too much about the Holocaust

Although some of the figures in the new survey were admittedly rough — the pollsters “cannot always translate or transmit, and certain questions Europeans simply won’t answer” — Foxman told JTA that anti-Semitic attitudes are higher in Europe then in the United States.

In a recent ADL poll of anti-Semitic attitudes among Americans, 33 percent of respondents said Jews are more loyal to Israel.

The question about the Holocaust was not asked in the American survey, which uses an index of 11 questions to map the anti-Semitic landscape.

The survey also found that 69 percent of Europeans said they are either very or fairly concerned with violence directed against European Jews, and 24 percent of Europeans feel their government is not doing enough to protect Jews.

The survey also reported that:

63 percent of Europeans say they know “little or nothing” about the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, while 57 percent say they follow media coverage of the Middle East “a great deal” or a “good amount.”

35 percent of Europeans believe the Israelis and the Palestinians are equally at fault for the violence, with 27 percent blaming Israel more and 20 percent blaming the Palestinians.

56 percent of Europeans view the current Israel government unfavorably, while 50 percent view the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat unfavorably.

29 percent of Europeans lend their sympathies more with the Palestinians, compared to 14 percent with the Israelis. Thirty-two percent said neither, and 12 percent said both.

75 percent of Europeans believe that attacks carried out by the Palestinians are terrorism, and 86 percent feel there is no justification for suicide bombers targeting Israelis.

60 percent of Europeans believe Israel’s use of military force is excessive and will not stop the attacks.

Foxman blamed anti-Israel sentiment on European governments, specifically French, Danish and Belgium leaders who condone violence against Jews as “political” and not anti-Semitic, he said.

The ADL leader said not all criticism of the Israeli government is anti-Semitic.

But he argued that the increased tension “rationalized and legitimizes” acts of violence against Jews and called it “absurd” that more Europeans view Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unfavorably than Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, explained the level of European sympathy for Palestinians as an issue, in part, of perception.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has captured the world the same way South Africa did, and right now the Palestinians are viewed as an underdog,” he said.

Noting numbers of Europeans who disapprove of suicide bombing, Tobin also questioned whether the poll shows overwhelming anti-Semitism. While 60 percent of Europeans that believe Israeli military use has been excessive, “so do a lot of Jews,” he said.

Foxman cited public concern over the protection of Jews as “good news,” but blamed the media for imitating European leaders coming out against Israel.

“The early reports of the so-called massacre at Jenin is one example of how the European media made biased assumptions in its coverage of the crisis,” added Glen Tobias, ADL’s national chairman.

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