How to present all Europe as anti-semitic

May 23, 2012
Sarah Benton

Anti-Semitism in Europe
As with previous surveys, data from this latest 2012 European tracking poll indicates that significant percentages of European respondents continue to believe in some of the most pernicious anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Respondents across the continent were asked whether or not they thought the following four statements were “probably true” or “probably false.”
[These are the percentages extrapolated from the tables. Tables 1-5 are percentages of respondents saying ‘probably true’]
(1) Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.
1 72% Spain
2 61% Italy; Poland
4 58% Norway
5 55% Hungary
6 52% Germany
7 48% UK
8 47% Netherlands, Austria
10 45% France

(2) Jews have too much power in the business world.
1 73% Hungary
2 60% Spain
3 54% Poland
4 39% Italy
5 35% France
6 30% Austria
7 22% Germany
8 21% Norway
9 20 UK
10 10% Netherlands

(3) Jews have too much power in international financial markets
1 75% Hungary
2 67% Spain
3 54% Poland
4 43% Italy
5 38% Austria
6 29% France
7 24% Germany
8 23% Norway
9 22% UK
10 17% Netherlands

4) Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.
1 63% Hungary
2 53% Poland
3 48% Italy
4 47% Spain
5 45% Austria
6 43% Germany
7 35% France
8 31% Netherlands
9 25% Norway
10 24% UK

On the 5th question, ‘The Jews are responsible for the death of Christ’, most countries shared percentages between 14 and 21 except Hungary (38%) and Poland (46%)

(6a) Is your opinion of Jews influenced by actions taken by the State of Israel? Those answering Yes.
1 39% Norway
2 37% Austria
3 34% Germany
4 29% Spain
5 27% Poland, Hungary
7 26% Italy
8 25% Netherlands
9 23% UK
10 12% France

Respondents who answered “yes” in the previous question were then asked the following question:
(6b) Is your opinion of Jews better or worse?
Percentage replying ‘worse’
1 85% Netherlands
2 80% Hungary
3 78% Norway
4 62% France
5 61% Austria
6 60% UK
7 59% Spain
8 58% Germany
9 54% Italy
10 50% Poland

(7) In your opinion, is the violence directed against Jews in (insert individual country name) a result of anti-Jewish feelings or a result of anti-Israel sentiment?
In the Netherlands, Spain and UK, the majproty thought it as the resut of anti-Israel sentiment (especially in Norway).In the other six countrie it was attributed to ‘anti-Jewish sentiment’.

8) Do you think your government is doing enough to ensure the safety and security of its Jewish citizens?
The majority in all 10 countries thought ‘yes’. The smallest margin was in Italy (47% Yes, 38% No), the largest in Germany (Yes 77%, No 16%)
Trends in Anti-Semitic Attitudes
 A comparison with the 2009 survey indicates that, over the past few
years, levels of anti-Semitism have increased most dramatically in Hungary, the United Kingdom and Spain.
 In fact, the number of those surveyed in the United Kingdom who now respond “probably true” to at least three of the four anti-Semitic stereotypes has increased by 70 percent.*
 Austria was the only country in which there was a slight decline in the percentage of respondents who believe that at least three of the four anti-Semitic stereotypes are “probably true.”
 The percentage of those believing that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country” has increased by 15 points in Hungary and 9 points in the United Kingdom.
 Since 2009, there has been a 16 point increase in the percentage of Hungarian respondents who believe that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.” In fact, three-quarters of Hungarian respondents now believe this stereotype to be “probably true.”
*This was a change from 10% to 17%, on both occasions the lowest of all countries surveyed.

Anti-Semitism in Europe on the rise, ADL poll finds

Overall level of anti-Semitism in France increases to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009.

By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz

Anti-Semitic attitudes in ten European countries remain at “disturbingly high levels,” according to a new poll from the Anti-Defamation League, released on Tuesday.

In France, where on Monday a shooting at a Jewish school resulted in the death of three children and a teacher, the overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009.

The poll finds that 45% of the French believe French Jews are more loyal to Israel than to France; 35% believe that Jews have too much power in the business world; 29% believe Jews hold too much power over the world’s international financial markets; and 35% believe Jews talk about the Holocaust too much.

“France has seen an increase in the level of anti-Semitism…all the more disturbing in light of the shooting attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

Out of the countries surveyed, the most anti-Semitic is Hungary, were 63 percent harbor anti-Semitic sentiments, up from 47 percent in 2009.

In Spain, 53 percent of the population expressed anti-Semitic attitudes, and in Poland 48 percent did.

The levels in Austria and Germany were lower, with 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

In the United Kingdom, the levels were lower, but compared to the rates in 2009 a sharp rise was revealed. While the survey found 10 percent of the population held anti-Semitic attitudes in 2009, 17 percent do today.

“The survey is disturbing by the fact that anti-Semitism remains at high levels across the continent and infects many Europeans at a much higher level than we see here in the United States,” Foxman said. “In Hungary, Spain and Poland the numbers for anti-Semitic attitudes are literally off-the-charts and demand a serious response from political, civic and religious leaders.”

No, criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism

Noam Sheizaf, +972

In fact, it could be the best thing a Jew can do these days.

The Jerusalem Post has published an op-ed titled, “Yes, all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!” As any philosophy student can recognize, it’s one of those arguments that makes the entire debate meaningless – if something is everything then it’s also nothing – but the piece is worth reading (and responding to) nonetheless. The author captures – unintentionally – the zeitgeist in Israeli politics, and also in large parts of the Jewish world. Both have ceased to differentiate between diplomacy, politics, and anti-Semitism as a special form of racism. In this exercise, evidence is meaningless. The author, Benjamin Kerstein, writes:

All criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic because of the specific historical circumstances under which we currently live. That is to say, the historical circumstances under which Israel and the Jews exist in the world today render any non-anti-Semitic criticism of Israel impossible. And, ironically, these are circumstances that Israel’s opponents have themselves created.

This perfect circle melts collective and personal identity, political institutions and individuals, into one being, in the tradition of – oh well – some of history’s worst anti-Semites.

The first – but not only – sign of racism (including anti-Semitism) is that it doesn’t allow its victim a space to change: Jews/blacks/Muslims are inherently A, and therefore they deserve B, goes the racist argument (it could even be a positive one – Jews are “good with money” is a racist declaration, because it presumes something that is inherent to all Jews). A critical argument, on the other hand, targets behavior and choices: An institution/group/person/state does A, and therefore deserves B. Criticism of political choices is not racism. It is simply politics. Recognizing the state that a certain group of Jews has formed – not even a majority – as representing every Jew on earth (and perhaps every Jew in history) is actually closer to old anti-Semite thinking.

It gets worse. The author of the JPost piece, and many like him, doesn’t bother to explain – and it’s no accident – what is exactly “criticism of Israel.” Is it criticism of the government? Of the government’s political behavior? Of the army? Of the state as a structure? Is arguing for an ethnicity-blind state (“a state for all its citizens”) anti-Semitism, as it seeks to change Israel, and in the process, criticize it? Is arguing for the one-state solution a form of anti-Semitism? Is arguing against the occupation anti-Semitism, as it is an Israeli project, carried out by almost all Israelis?

Dwelling on these questions would necessarily label many Israelis, including Members of Knesset and prominent institutions, along with half the world, inherently anti-Semitic.

Naturally, some readers would accept this, and answer that yes! Those groups and people, even if they are Jewish or Israeli, are in fact anti-Semitic. I urge them to reconsider. The effect of such a claim would not be the delegitimization of anti-Semitism, but quite the opposite: Many real anti-Semites would be seen as partners in a large and rational community that deserves to be heard. If everyone is equal to the Nazis, then maybe Nazism wasn’t that bad after all.

Moreover: The terms Zionism, Israeli and Judaism were never meant to overlap. A person can identify with two out of three of those descriptions, or even just one out of three. The current ideological shift in Israel has a lot to do with the integration of different aspects of identity into one. The state (Israel) equals the Jewish people equals the ideology (Zionism), and everyone not abiding with this model is necessarily a traitor – or an anti-Semite.

I am not a big fan of Israeli romanticism – the longing for the lost democratic and liberal past, which I do not believe ever really existed – but I would say this: Israeli politics in the past had the ability to be relaxed enough, focused enough on consensus-building, for it to hold together a structure with many internal contradictions: Judaism and democracy, socialism and free market, Zionists and anti-Zionists. The new Israeli right would like the center of the political system and the public sphere, the former place of fragile consensus, to be ideologically and ethnically pure, and labeling any challenge as an existential danger is an important part of this process. The idea of across-the-board purity was popular in Europe in the late 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century. I’ll stop here.

In the face of such a threat, old truths must be repeated: Criticism of the Israeli government is important, and it’s important most of all for Israelis, because power needs always to be criticized. The right to challenge the political structure – even to change the country (Americans would have called it amending the Constitution) – should be the right of every living human being, including Israelis.

Israel is currently engaged in the longest-lasting military occupation on earth, a racist colonial project, which involves violence and human rights abuses on a structural, large-scale basis. Perhaps it’s not the worst regime on earth and it’s certainly not the worst in history, but it’s bad enough to deserve all the attention it gets, and more. Fighting it is not anti-Semitism. It’s called having a conscience.

[The JPost article is here.  It says ” the historical circumstances under which Israel and the Jews exist in the world today render any non anti-Semitic criticism of Israel impossible.”]



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