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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe

People demonstrating in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel

People demonstrating in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel
Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi /Flash90

Not unexpectedly the animosity towards Jews extends to the state of Israel. Nearly 40% of the Europeans in the survey believe that Israel is waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians. The Polish figure is 63%. The other countries range from Portugal (48%) to Italy (37%). A similar range was found in the accompanying question; nearly half in some of the countries think that attitudes of antisemitism result from disapproval of Israel’s activities, Poland (55%) to Germany and Britain (35%).

It is the task of political education to overcome those factors that favor prejudiced attitudes: a low level of education, low income, and a culture, especially in Eastern Europe, where prejudice in general is more widespread than in Western Europe. For this purpose some generalizations are pertinent. Antisemitism is prevalent among people in age group 50-65, and disappointingly in the 16-21 group, and lowest among the 22-34 group. Hostility generally increases with age, making the level of hate in the 16-21 age group worrisome. Although European educational systems are diverse, it appears that people with the median level of education are not significantly different from those at a low level, and are more antisemitic than well educated people. Gender plays a minor role; women, however, more likely to be prejudiced than men regarding immigrants and Muslims, are not more antisemitic than men.

The report was restricted to attitudes and beliefs. It therefore did not include physical acts of anti-Semitism such as the overt harassment of Jews through threats or attacks, both physical and verbal; the vandalism of Jewish property, institutions, and memorial sites; the use of cyberspace to convey hostile messages; the revival of blood libel charges; the widespread allegation of Jewish conspiracies, the rise of openly anti-Semitic parties, and the success of Islamist parties and groups. Neither does the Report deal with the newest form of antisemitism, that of Muslim extremists.

The Ebert Foundation is allied with the German Social Democratic party. Not surprisingly. Its report is mainly concerned with right wing or populist political attitudes, not with those of the political left. It finds that the further to the right of self-identification, the more it is that people hold prejudicial views. It did also mention, nevertheless, that extreme left groups and individuals, probably because of their authoritarian attitudes, were more prejudiced than those of the moderate left. It does not belittle the importance of the report to comment that it minimizes the degree of antisemitism displayed by a number of individuals from well-educated groups, and by the media and the academic community. These last groups repeatedly issue international condemnations against Israel with their calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, and their attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel. These attacks can be explained in a number of ways, but certainly a major one would be an implicit antisemitism. A warning for these groups: “Teacher heal thyself: prejudice and discrimination are on display.”
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

About the Author: Michael Curtis is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University, and author of the forthcoming book, Should Israel Exist? A sovereign nation under assault by the international community.


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