European Jewish Association's annual policy conference

Action and Protection League of Europe chairman Rabbi Shlomó Köves speaks at the European Jewish Association’s annual policy conference in Paris on Feb. 24, 2020. 

Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel prejudices are widespread throughout Europe, with almost one in four Europeans equating Israelis to Nazis and one in five believing Jews exploit the Holocaust for their own benefit, according to a recent survey.

The survey collected 500,000 data points from 14,000 people in 16 E.U. countries from December 2019 to January 2020. The findings were presented on Monday at the European Jewish Association’s annual conference in Paris.

Among the findings were that 24 percent of Europeans “strongly disagree” and “tend to disagree” that it is good for a country if many Jews live there, while 15 percent of Europeans believe Jews are more inclined than most to use shady practices to achieve their goals. The same percentage of respondents said that “Jews have too much influence” in their country.

Eighteen percent said they “strongly agree” and “tend to agree” that it’s always better to be a little cautious with Jews, and 20 percent expressed their belief that “there is a secret Jewish network that influences political and economic affairs in the world.”

More than one in five (21 percent) said that “Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust,” and 20 percent said that Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes. More than a third (34 percent) said that people in their nation suffered as much as the Jews during World War II.

Regarding opinions about Israel, 25 percent “strongly disagreed” and “tended to disagree” that Israel is engaged in legitimate self-defense against its enemies, and the same number said that when they think of Israel’s politics, they understand why some people hate Jews. Twenty-four percent equate Israelis to Nazis in their behavior towards the Palestinians, and the same percentage said that this treatment justifies an international boycott of Israel.

The results of the survey, which will be fully released in June, were presented by Action and Protection League of Europe chairman Rabbi Shlomó Köves at a press briefing at the European Centre of Judaism in Paris. The APL was founded in 2018 in Budapest with funding from the Hungarian government to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism throughout the European Union.

Köves told JNS that this is the first time that “such a large-scale representative survey was done, especially focusing on anti-Semitic attitudes in societies.”

In addition to the general results of the survey, said Köves, the data showed that “Holocaust denial and stereotypical anti-Jewish conspiracies are more typical in Eastern Europe and Greece, while anti-Israel bias is more representative in the western part of the continent.”

Learning about anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe in general and in various countries in particular, he maintained, “can really help us understand the mindset of each of these countries and that definitely helps us when we prepare ourselves for the fight against anti-Semitism.” JN

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