New Poll: Anti-Semitism Alive in Europe, Knowledge of Holocaust Fading
News Press Release
December 26, 2018

A new poll, compiled in September, has found that substantial numbers of Europeans hold anti-Semitic views and that knowledge of the Holocaust is fading. The poll, conducted by ComRes for CNN, surveyed 7,092 people from across Europe, with more than 1,000 people polled per country in seven countries: Austria, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden.

The CNN poll showed that one third of Europeans (and one half of Poles) believe that Jews exploit the Holocaust to promote their positions and goals and that Israel does so to justify its actions.

The CNN poll showed that one third of Europeans (and one half of Poles) believe that Jews exploit the Holocaust to promote their positions and goals and that Israel does so to justify its actions. Only one in five Europeans objected to this proposition. Also, about four out of 10 respondents in Poland and Hungary said that Jews have too much influence on the business and financial world, while one-third of Poles and Hungarians believe that Jews exert too much influence on world politics and more than a quarter said that Jews have too much influence on the media.

The CNN poll also showed that an astonishing 5% of Europeans, or one in twenty persons, have never heard of the Nazi genocide committed against European Jewry during World War Two.

In Austria, the birthplace of Hitler, 12% of young people said they had never heard of the Holocaust, while four out of ten Austrians admitted to knowing “little” about it.

In other finding, the poll showed that:

  • Half of the respondents from all European countries, said they knew “quite a lot” about the Holocaust, and one of five said he had “extensive knowledge.”
  • Two-thirds of Europeans believe that perpetuating remembrance of the Holocaust helps ensure that such atrocities never happen again, while half of Europeans believe that Holocaust commemoration helps fight anti-Semitism today.
  • 54% of Europeans believe that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. 
  • One-third of Europeans believe that criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism, and only one in five believes that this is not the case.
  • 28% of Europeans believe that most of the manifestations of anti-Semitism in their countries come in response to Israel’s actions. 
  • 18% of Europeans (nearly one-fifth) believe that anti-Semitism in their countries is a response to the daily behavior of Jews.
  • One out of ten Europeans admit to having an unfavorable opinion of Jews, a figure that rises to 15 % of respondents in Poland and 19% of respondents in Hungary.
  • Two-thirds of Europeans over-estimate the size of world Jewry, with a quarter of Hungarians estimating that the world is more than 20% Jewish, and a fifth of British and Polish respondents believing the same. (According to the Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study, the Jews constitute a mere 0.2% of the world’s population.)

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This poll unfortunately confirms that anti-Semitic attitudes retain a substantial following in Europe, despite the Holocaust and the direct experience of Nazism’s depredations by all the countries concerned, other than Britain and Sweden.

“When more than a quarter of Europeans take the view that anti-Semitism is a response to Israeli actions, and nearly a fifth believe that Jewish behavior accounts for hostile views about Jews, then clearly anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe are still far from marginal. Such people are really saying that violence against and murder of Jews stems from something Jews are supposedly doing, thereby indulging in the anti-Semitic tendency of blaming Jews for anti-Semitism.

“Over-estimation of the size of world Jewry, amounting to exaggeration by a factor of 100, is itself an indicator of anti-Semitism, which perceives Jews as uniquely powerful and malevolent, rather than a tiny minority, however accomplished, in all countries other than Israel.

“The receding of knowledge of the Holocaust, as the generation of Europeans who lived through the Nazi era dies out, is perhaps to be expected, but it is hard to believe that 10% of Austrians have never heard about this major, unprecedented event in European history that occurred in living memory and with which, moreover, many Austrians were involved.

“Ignorance and hostility make a bad combination when thinking of the Jewish future in Europe, especially when one adds to this the vast immigration into Europe from Muslim societies, all of which are afflicted with endemic levels of anti-Semitism, which is altering these societies and bodes poorly for the future security and viability of Jewish communities in Europe.”

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