Nine out of ten French Jewish students have experienced anti-Semitism

Nine out of ten Jewish students in France have experienced anti-Semitism, study finds

  • The survey polled 405 Jewish students across France about their experiences
  • 89 per cent said they had been the victim of an anti-Semitic act, trope or joke
  • Only 1 per cent pressed charges, with 19 per cent saying they feared reprisals 
  • Hate crimes against Jews have spiked in France in recent months  
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Nine in 10 Jewish students in France have been targeted with anti-Semitic abuse during their studies, according to a new poll.  

The extensive survey, conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) this month, interviewed more than 1400 students across the country about their feelings and experiences in higher education. 

Of the 405 Jewish students polled, 89 per cent said they have been the victim of at least one anti-Semitic act – such as a Holocaust joke, stereotype about Jews or another act of aggression. 

Almost as many – 85 per cent – reported being subjected to a least one remark that contained an anti-Semitic trope. 

A poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) surveyed 405 Jewish students and found that 89 per cent said they have been the victim of at least one anti-Semitic act. Last month thousands demonstrated against the rise in hate crimes against Jews (pictured)

In February, ordinary citizens and officials across the political spectrum gathered at the Republique square in Paris in solidarity with French Jews after a recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes

‘In an effort to stick as close as possible to the reality on the ground, we compared these answers to those given by non-Jewish students, and 45 per cent of them say that they have witnessed at least one anti-Semitic act during their studies, which gives an idea of ​​the scale of the phenomenon’ Frédéric Dabi, Deputy Director General of Ifop, told French weekly magazine L’Express.    

The survey also found that 75 per cent of Jewish students had endured ‘jokes about the Holocaust or Jews’. And one in five said they experienced ‘anti-Semitic aggression’, meaning physical violence. 

Shockingly, there is a huge gap between the number of incidents reported in the poll and those that are flagged to police; just one per cent of Jewish students said they pressed charges after receiving anti-Semitic abuse.   

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Slight more – eight per cent – lodged a complaint with their university, but the majority – 58 per cent – tried to resolve the situation directly with the people concerned. 

The number of Jewish students who stayed silent citing fear of reprisals was almost one in five. 

‘This shows the abyssal gap between the official discourse, which proclaims that any anti-Semitic action must be the subject of a complaint, and the reality on the ground,’ Mr Dabi told L’Express.

European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor said: ‘Unfortunately, campuses, which are supposed to be the bases of open and liberal thought have become hotbeds of hate and intolerance against Jews.

A Paris protester hold a placard saying: ‘Anti-Semitism is a crime not an opinion’. One in five Jewish students have said they experienced ‘anti-Semitic aggression’, meaning physical violence. 

‘Without the assistance and understanding of the campus authorities, law enforcement agencies and the faculties, many institutions of higher education are becoming no-go areas for Jewish students and this should shame the system.’

The Ifop poll, which was commissioned by the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF), comes just one month after another Ifop survey on anti-Semitism. 

Although that survey showed a decrease in anti-Semitic sentiment compared to 2016, 21 per cent on respondents said that Jews have too much power in the media, economy and finance.

Furthermore, 27 per cent still believe that Jews were richer than the average French person, and 20 per cent said they abuse the Holocaust to promote their own interests.   

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalised with a swastika during a visit at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, France

The ‘Yellow Vest’ movement was found to be more agreeable to anti-Semitic statements than the rest of the population. 

Indeed, 59 per cent of them supported at least one anti-Semitic statement during the test, and one in ten agreed with all of them. 

During one Yellow Vest march earlier this year, Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was subjected to a torrent of hate speech, with a video of the scene showing a protester calling him a ‘dirty Zionist’ and telling him ‘France belongs to us’.

Despite the poll finding that fewer people hold anti-Semitic views compared with two years ago, there has been a spike in the number of aggressive hate crimes against Jews in France in recent months. 

France has seen a spike in hate crimes against Jewish people in recent months, such as this swastika and the words ‘shoa blabla’ discovered on a headstone in the Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or cemetery on February 20

In February, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of his shame after visiting a vandalised Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, where 96 tombstones had been spray-painted with blue and yellow swastikas.    

Swastika graffiti was also found on street portraits of Simone Veil – a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president who died in 2017.

The word ‘Juden’ was painted on the window of a bagel restaurant in Paris, and two trees planted at a memorial honouring a young Jewish man tortured to death in 2006 were vandalised, one cut down.

Two youths were arrested in February after they allegedly fired shots at a synagogue with an air rifle in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a large Jewish community lives.   

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