Anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe, CNN poll shows

Anti-Semitism is still prevalent — and even on the rise — in Europe, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ComRes poll — which surveyed more than 7,000 people in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sweden and Great Britain — found that one in 10 respondents said they are not favourable toward Jewish people. The number rose when the poll looked specifically at Hungary (19 per cent) and Poland (15 per cent).

That’s compared to over one-third (36 per cent) of respondents who said they aren’t favourable toward Muslim people.

University of British Columbia history professor Richard Menkis told Global News the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment has been happening for a while.

“From all of the qualitative and impressionistic data, the rise of anti-Semitism in the last while is not a surprise,” Menkis said.

“There are a lot of people in Europe and elsewhere who are feeling that they are losing the power that they traditionally had… They see themselves as victims and they find in the Jews the victimizer.”

One-fifth of Europeans say Jewish people have too much influence on the media compared to other people, and nearly  three in 10 respondents (28 per cent) say Jewish people have too much influence in finance and business.

“A lot of these attitudes have existed for a long time,” Menkis said.

One of every three European respondents said they know little to nothing about the Holocaust, with one of every 20 saying they have never heard about it, CNN says.

Only 20 per cent of respondents said they knew “a great deal,” with 48 per cent of respondents saying they knew a fair amount and another 30 per cent saying they knew “just a little.”

Menkis said it’s important to know that the one out of 20 statistic could be worse and that there are major initiatives to try to raise Holocaust awareness in Europe.

But change has to come from the top, Menkis said, pointing to Canada as an example. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently apologized for turning away the MS St. Louis in 1939, which was carrying 907 German Jewish passengers who were fleeing Nazi violence.

“It indicates that, from above, there is recognition, whereas there are other places which are building their nationalism by denying or suppressing their past mistakes or their poor treatment (of minorities),” he explained.

“Some of the things that are going on in Europe, those are those are places that are unwilling to hear the full story about participation, for example, in aspects of the Holocaust.”

Anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise

Jews were the most targeted minority for hate crimes reported to police in Canada in 2016, Statistics Canada said. Anti-Semitic incidents increased 24 per cent that year. B’nai Brith Canada said 2017 saw another increase.

The FBI says anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States spiked 37 per cent in 2017.

In France, one of the countries surveyed, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said acts of anti-Semitism had risen 69 per cent from January to September compared with the same period in 2017. He said that in the two previous years there had been a downward trend in the figures.

But the CNN poll shows that some of the Europeans surveyed blame the Jews themselves for anti-Semitism. Nearly one-fifth of Europeans say anti-Semitism in their countries is a response to the everyday behaviour of Jewish people.

And over a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) said it was because of the actions of the state of Israel.

Menkis said this could be explained because there is a misrepresentation of who is a victim and who is a “victimizer.”

From what I did see, there is an implication that the the numbers are on the rise across the board,” Menkis said. “And there is a lot of malaise that’s being (spread).” 

—With files from Stewart Bell and Reuters

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