ADL Survey Finds Some Decrease In Anti-Semitic Attitudes In Ten European Countries

Government Actions and Education To Stem Anti-Semitism Seen As Contributing Factors

Berlin, Germany, April 26, 2004 An opinion survey of adults in ten European countries found some decrease in anti-Semitic attitudes from its 2002 findings, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported today. The survey, Attitudes Toward Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in Ten European Countries, was released in Berlin today on the eve of an historic international conference on anti-Semitism, convened by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The countries surveyed were: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


Two methodologies were used to ascertain the attitudes - one in a group of five countries and another in a second group of five countries. The most significant finding of the poll, irrespective of the methodology, is that there is some decrease in anti-Semitic attitudes in almost all the countries surveyed.


The 2004 results of those who hold anti-Semitic attitudes in the first group of five countries are:


                France 25%, down from 35% in 2002

                Germany 36%, down from 37%

                Belgium 35%, down from 39%

                Denmark 16%, down from 21%

                U.K. - 24%, up from 18%

In 2004, data from the second group of respondents who hold anti-Semitic views:


                Spain - 24%, down from 34 percent in 2002

          Italy -15%, down from 23%

          Switzerland -17%, down from 22%

          Austria - 17%, down from 19%

    The Netherlands - 9%, up from 7%


Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director said of the survey results:

Two years ago as violent acts of anti-Semitism were sweeping Europe, leaders were reluctant to acknowledge and confront the issue head on.  Jews around the world sounded the alert and called on the EU, government leaders and good people in each country to recognize that they had an anti-Semitism problem, and match words with deeds.

Many did. French President Jacques Chirac finally stopped denying that anti-Semitism existed in France, declared it unacceptable and created educational and legislative initiatives to combat it. The OSCE Conference in Vienna in June 2003 featured anti-Semitism and called for convening the Berlin Conference. Under the leadership of Romano Prodi of Italy, the EU held a conference in Brussels in February 2004 to discuss the seriousness and implications of the results of an EU poll that found more Europeans seeing as Israel a threat to world peace than any other country. In March 2004 the EU Monitoring group issued a full-blown report on anti-Semitism in Europe in response to the situation.

Actions bring results and these findings demonstrate that when denial is out and action is in, not just the number of acts of anti-Semitism decrease, but also many negative attitudes about Jews.

Nevertheless, large numbers of Europeans still accept a wide range of traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews.  Fueled by anti-Israel sentiment, beliefs, such as the charge that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country, help incite and legitimize anti-Semitism.


The Findings: Anti-Semitism


In the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, and Italy acceptance of five anti-Semitic stereotypes has declined across the board. These five stereotypes are:

1)       Jews don't care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
2)      Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.

3)       Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.

4)       Jews have too much power in the business world.

5)      Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.


In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country," the 2004 survey found a decrease in nine countries:

Spain - 48%, down from 72% in 2002

                Germany 50%, down from 55%

                France 28%, down from 42%

                Italy - 57%, down from 58%

                Austria - 46%, down from 54%

                Switzerland - 46%, down from 49% in

                Belgium 46%, down from 49%

                The Netherlands 44%, down from 48%

                Denmark 37% - down from 45%

                Only the United Kingdom had an increase to 40%,
                up from 34% in 2002


In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews don't care about anyone but their own kind," the 2004 survey found a decrease in six countries:


                Spain -23%, down from 34% in 2002

                Italy 24%, down from 30%

                France 15%, down from 20%

                Belgium 20%, down from 25%

                Switzerland 30%, down from 34%

                Denmark 14%, down from 16%


Two countries showed an increase


    Germany 30%, up from 24%

    U.K. 18%, up from 10%


Austria remained unchanged at 29% and The Netherlands at 15%


Mr. Foxman added that, "the good news is that respondents in eight of the ten countries support increased governmental attention to hate crimes, and an overwhelming majority in each country believe it is important for their government to take a role in combating anti-Semitism in their respective countries.  That is a clear message to the OSCE states and to all governments that there is broad support from their citizenry for initiatives and actions."


"These findings will help guide our deliberations on a European and country by country basis, as we continue the effort to combat anti-Semitism," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair. "We will be working with our European colleagues on a variety of initiatives to educate against anti-Semitism."


The Findings: Israel and the Palestinian-Israel Conflict


The 2004 data indicate that attitudes towards Israel have gotten progressively worse in the last two years among those polled in the ten countries.

  • Israel's "favorability" has decreased from 28% in 2002 to 23%

                  Italy 40% (41% in 2002)

                  The Netherlands 25% (34% in 2002)

                  U.K.  24% (29% in 2002)

                  Denmark 23% (31% in 2002)

                  Austria 23% (21% in 2002)

                  France 22% (23% in 2002)

                  Germany 21% (29% in 2002)

                  Belgium 18% (26%)

                  Switzerland 17% (24% in 2002)

                  Spain 13% (14% in 2002)


  • 34% believe Israel wants to reach an agreement with the Palestinians compared to 40% in 2002
  • 31% believe Israel is an open and democratic society compared to 38% in 2002
  • Respondents continue to sympathize more with the Palestinians than the Israelis:
    24% Palestinians; 15% Israel
  • By a margin of almost 2-1 Israel is held more responsible for the violence in the Middle East than the Palestinians:
    25.8% Israel; 13.9% Palestinians

"These findings reflect a bias against Israel in Europe among government and media," Mr. Foxman said. "These attitudes not only create an atmosphere that us unfriendly to Israel but also makes it more difficult for Europe to play a constructive role in the Middle East Peace Process.  Mr. Foxman added "now that the EU is a member of the Quartet, the need for responsible and balanced European positions that engender trust on both sides of the conflict is more important than ever."


ADL commissioned First International Resources to conduct the survey. Fielded in Europe by Taylor Nelson Sofres, which conducted a total of 5,000 telephone interviews 500 in each of the ten countries in the native language of each of the countries -- among the general population between March 16 - April 8, 2004. The margin has a margin of error for each country is +/-4.4% at 95% level of confidence.

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The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.