Harmful antisemitic stereotypes remain deeply entrenched across Europe, survey finds

According to ADL, one in four residents of European countries harbor extensive anti-Jewish attitudes; Antisemitic beliefs decline among Ukrainians; Holocaust denial is markedly higher in Eastern Europe
Some of the most stubborn anti-Jewish tropes remain deeply entrenched in 10 European countries, with roughly one in four people harboring extensive classic antisemitic beliefs, according to a new Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey measuring antisemitic attitudes across Europe whose findings were published Wednesday.
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The survey found that one in three respondents in six Western European countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries.
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פעילי ימין קיצוני צועדים בדרזדן. מפגש שנתי של מסרים פאשיסטים
פעילי ימין קיצוני צועדים בדרזדן. מפגש שנתי של מסרים פאשיסטים
Far-right activists marching through Dresden, Germany
(Photo: Petr David Zusak / AP)
In Spain, one in four people, or about 10 million people, is likely to believe classic antisemitic stereotypes – particularly hateful beliefs about Jews and money and Jews controlling the government.
“It’s disturbing that so many Europeans continue to subscribe to some of the most dangerous antisemitic canards from history, including that Jews are inherently greedy, that they control government and finance, or are more loyal to Israel. And unfortunately, this has not gotten better since our last poll of the region in 2019,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director.
“These noxious ideas historically motivated antisemitic attacks and should never be taken lightly, especially on a continent that witnessed the Holocaust.”
The European survey is the latest installment of The ADL Global 100: An Index of Antisemitism, first conducted in 2014, which is the most extensive poll on global antisemitic attitudes ever conducted, encompassing 102 countries and territories.
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ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt
ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt
ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt
(Photo: Courtesy)
Consistent with previous surveys, among the six countries polled in Western Europe, Spain remains the country with the highest level of antisemitic attitudes, with 26% of the population harboring extensive antisemitic beliefs, followed by Belgium (24%), France (17%), Germany (12%) and the United Kingdom (10%).
The Netherlands registered the lowest score of the 10 countries polled for the antisemitism index, with just 6% of those polled holding antisemitic views.
In Eastern Europe, antisemitic attitudes are even more firmly entrenched. Despite modest declines in each of the four countries polled, there are still high levels of antisemitic beliefs in Hungary (37%), Poland (35%) and Russia (26%).
The largest decline in hateful attitudes toward Jews was recorded in Ukraine, where antisemitic attitudes dropped from a record high of 46% in 2019 to 29% in 2023, potentially driven in part by the popularity of the Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose approval ratings have risen dramatically over the last few years in response to his defiance in the face of Russian military attacks.
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ג'ו ביידן וולודימיר זלנסקי בפסגת G7 הירושימה יפן
ג'ו ביידן וולודימיר זלנסקי בפסגת G7 הירושימה יפן
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - proudly Jewish
(Photo: Reuters)
“The dramatic improvement in antisemitic attitudes in Ukraine seems linked to the popularity of President Zelensky, a leader who is both proudly Jewish and public about his heritage,” said Greenblatt.
“While the survey findings do not directly address questions of causality, there’s no doubt that having a Jewish president who is being praised for his response to Russian aggression seems to have affected perceptions of Jews among ordinary Ukrainian citizens.”
Holocaust awareness is virtually universal across Europe, but Holocaust denial is markedly higher in Eastern Europe.
In Hungary and Ukraine, 19% of those polled agree with the statement that “the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen,” or say the numbers of Jews who died were “greatly exaggerated.”
In Russia and Poland, those denying the Holocaust were at 17% and 15%, respectively. Germany and the Netherlands came in lowest for Holocaust denial, at 5% and 4%, respectively.
The survey found that higher concern over right-wing violence correlates with lower levels of antisemitism in Europe. Countries with more concern about far-right violence (France, Germany, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom), tend to have lower antisemitism index scores than countries with less concern about far-right violence (Hungary, Poland, and Spain).
The poll found most Europeans reject the use of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a tactic to isolate the State of Israel. While many in Western European countries say they sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis, support for boycotting Israel was extremely low.
“Many, if not most, countries in Europe still have a long way to go in educating their people about the sordid history and current-day reality of antisemitism,” said Marina Rosenberg, ADL Senior VP of International Affairs. “Jewish life continues in many of these countries, and we need to ensure that their governments are doing everything they can to provide a safe and secure future for their Jewish citizens.”
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