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'Deeply Concerning': 25% of Europeans Have Anti-Semitic Beliefs and it's Getting Worse

11-21-2019
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday he is shocked by a statement by Felix Klein, the government's anti-Semitism commissioner, that he wouldn't advise Jews to wear skullcaps in parts of the country for their safety. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday he is shocked by a statement by Felix Klein, the government's anti-Semitism commissioner, that he wouldn't advise Jews to wear skullcaps in parts of the country for their safety. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

JERUSALEM, Israel - A new report released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reveals just how bad anti-Semitism is getting in eastern and central Europe.

The survey shows that about one in four Europeans holds "pernicious and pervasive" anti-Semitic attitudes towards Jews. The findings are based on a poll of 28 countries between April and June 2019 in eastern and western Europe, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil.

Researchers found that while the level of anti-Semitism in western Europe appears to remain constant, eastern Europe is becoming increasingly more hostile to Jews.

"It is deeply concerning that approximately one in four Europeans harbor the types of anti-Semitic beliefs that have endured since before the Holocaust," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. "These findings serve as a powerful wake-up call that much work remains to be done to educate broad swaths of the populations in many of these countries to reject bigotry, in addition to addressing the pressing security needs where violent incidents are rising."

The most common anti-Semitic tropes found in eastern and central Europe are the stereotypes of "Jewish power" over the economy and "dual loyalty." Many people surveyed also believe that Jews talk too much about the horrors of the Holocaust. 

The countries with the highest level of anti-Semitic beliefs are Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary, where more than 40% of the respondents in each country expressing negative attitudes towards Jews.

While classic far right-anti-Semitism appears to be a growing trend in Europe, the new Boycotts, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement is struggling to gain popularity.

"Across all the countries surveyed – except for South Africa – support for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel was found to be extremely low. In most European countries, support for the boycott of Israel was less than 15 percent," according to the ADL.

German lawmakers outright condemned BDS as anti-Semitic in a resolution earlier this year.

But German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer admits that anti-Semitism is still a problem in her country.

"We are now witnessing, let me say, a new wave of anti-Semitism in Germany Europe," Wasum-Rainer told attendees of the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem Thursday.

"We consider any anti-Semitic incident as targeting the Jews and non-Jews of Europe," she continued. "There is zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred in Germany."

One way Germany is combating this rise is by pushing to criminalize "hate speech" and anti-Semitism on and offline.

Frederik Rogge, Chargé d'Affaires of the French Embassy in Israel, said France takes anti-Semitism seriously and is working to defeat it before it gets worse.

"At the highest level of the French state our position is absolutely clear that we need to fight against anti-Semitism and that the French Jewish population is apart of the French nation," Rogge said at the conference.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe revealed last year that there was a 69 percent increase in documented anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2018.

While figures "had been down for two years, the number of these acts increased by more than 69 percent in the first nine months of 2018," he wrote on his Facebook page. 

Like Germany, France is working to combat anti-Semitism on the internet, but it is also focusing on educating students about the history and dangers of this type of bigotry.

"Not to remain indifferent is to educate young generations to respect each other. As of mid-November, at the Ministry of National Education, a national team will be constantly available to participate in schools in support of any teacher facing anti-Semitism," Philippe said at the time.

Paul Packer, Chairman of United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, says he is busy combatting anti-Semitism in America. While the US is still one of the safest places for Jews, American Jews are seriously concerned about anti-Semitism in the US.

Nearly 9 in 10 American Jews say anti-Semitism is a problem in the US, according to a new landmark survey from the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Packer told the Jerusalem Post conference attendees that the US is tackling anti-Semitism head-on.

"When the United States says and means that we're not going to stand for it, we're not going to stand for it," he said. "We expect all of our allies to stand by it as well."

"We stand with Israel and the Jewish state when we say 'never again' and 'never forget.'"

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