Report finds entrenched European anti-Semitism

Many Europeans believe the Jews dictate U.S. policy in the Mideast, wield disproportionate global economic influence and talk too much about the Holocaust, according to a report released Monday, May 14 by the Anti-Defamation League.

The report found that significant numbers of people in five European countries continue to hold anti-Jewish stereotypes, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL.

“A large number of Europeans continue to be infected with anti-Jewish attitudes, holding on to classical anti-Jewish canards and conspiracy theories,” Foxman said.

The survey of 2,714 people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland found that 51 percent of respondents believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in. In the Spanish sample, the figure was 60 percent. In France, only 39 percent agreed.

The survey was conducted by London-based Taylor Nelson Sofres and has a 4 percent margin of error.

Foxman said the widely held belief in dual allegiances was particularly troubling. “Disloyalty is a classical canard of anti-Semitism,” Foxman said. “Hitler did not begin with Aryan supremacy. Hitler began with charging the Jews of not being good Germans, of selling out Germany for their own interest.”

The statement that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” was seen as “probably true” by 58 percent of poll respondents in Poland, where many of the World War II Nazi death camps were located. The average for the five countries polled was 47 percent in agreement.

Poles were most likely say they somewhat agree or strongly agree that the Jews “are responsible for the death of Christ.” Thirty-nine percent of Poles agreed, compared to 20 percent overall.

An average of 44 percent said Jews “probably” have too much influence on international financial markets, while close to half believe that “American Jews control U.S. policy in the Middle East.”

“The stereotype of Jewish power, that conspiracy thing, is growing,” Foxman said. “Not only do many Europeans think European Jews are more loyal to Israel, they also believe Jews in America control their foreign policy,” such as policy toward Iran.

“That is very sinister,” Foxman added. “It is being put at our doorstep, and I think it is very problematic.”

Foxman said a German reporter asked him in Jerusalem why it was anti-Semitic to suggest that Jews worry too much about the Holocaust.

“I said it does not mean you are anti-Semitic if you say that,” said Foxman, who was saved by his Polish Catholic nanny and raised as a Catholic during the war. “But of all the countries in the world, Germany should be the last to have a problem with Jews talking about the Shoah, even if we know they have ‘Auschwitz-schmerz,'” a weariness of discussing the Holocaust.

Other recent studies of Germans have shown support for sanctions against Iran. But they also revealed varied results on the issue of so-called international Jewish influence.

But the news isn’t all bad, Foxman noted. When it comes to recognizing threats from extremist Arab groups, many Europeans appear to have gotten the message.

“The good news is that while Europeans continue to be predominantly supportive of the Palestinian narrative, they are able and willing not to see the whole Middle East in one massive bloc,” Foxman said.

Europeans tend to see “a significant threat in Iran’s going nuclear” and “they do regard Hamas as a terrorist organization,” he said.

Foxman said European politicians should take note that the majority of constituents would be “with them in terms of sanctions” against Iran. The poll “shows that the public does differentiate and discern nuances and differences, and if you don’t lump [the Arab countries] in one camp, you can impact on the public’s views.”

In each country surveyed, anti-Jewish stereotypes were more widely believed by those over 65 and those without a college education. On average, attitudes toward Jews had worsened in some areas and remained unchanged in others, compared to a similar survey in 2005.