In its first survey of European attitudes about Jews, the Anti-Defamation League has found that 30 percent of respondents harbor "traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes," while nearly half believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their native lands.
But more disturbing than the statistics is evidence that officials in major European countries are doing next to nothing to stop the synagogue desecrations, assaults and other expressions of hate that have swept across the continent in the past two years, says ADL national director Abraham Foxman.
"The violence is carried out by a small group," said Foxman. "But there is a larger number who are apathetic, who tolerate it and permit it."
The poll found that 62 percent of Europeans dismiss the recent outbreak of violence against Jews in Europe as a result of anti-Israel sentiment and not traditional anti-Jewish feelings.
The finding that 30 percent of Europeans are "hard-core" anti-Semites far exceeds the 17 percent of Americans so designated in the ADL survey released two weeks ago.
Foxman said this was alarming because a higher propensity toward anti-Semitism made such attitudes more mainstream. "The greater the anti-Semitism in the general population, the less likely there is to be a political will to deal with it," he said. "You don’t see politicians standing up, you don’t see law enforcement acting, making arrests, bringing indictments."
Foxman said the most disturbing finding in the poll was that 45 percent of Europeans questioned the loyalty of Jews to their countries of origin. "It’s a hideous, sinister, dangerous canard, because the history of anti-Semitism is [in the belief] that Jews are not loyal to princes, nobles … and they were either killed or expelled or separated."
The telephone survey was conducted between May 16 and June 4. Pollsters contacted a total of 2,500 people in Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Among other significant findings:
30 percent believe Jews have too much power in the business world;
19 percent say Jews don’t care about anyone but their own kind;
39 percent say Jews talk too much about the Holocaust;
One interesting finding on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suggested that media coverage of the dispute shed little light on its foundations. Although 57 percent said they follow media coverage of the conflict regularly, 63 percent said they knew "very little" about the details.
Only 28 percent said they view Israel favorably, while 29 percent sympathized more with the Palestinians. But 86 percent said there is no justification for suicide attacks against Israel. And 60 percent said Israeli military force is excessive and unhelpful.
Foxman said American Jews need to be better informed about the extent of European anti-Semitism. But he said a boycott of travel or products, suggested by some leaders, would not be helpful in bringing about change.
"I don’t think we can impact on French wine or perfume or on [tourism to] the French Riviera," said the ADL leader. He suggested speaking out and raising consciousness would be more effective.
"These countries have finally come to grips with the Holocaust. They didn’t do so out of fear of a boycott, but because they want an image of good will in America and abroad."