The killing of eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27 was a chilling reminder for American Jews that anti-Semitism is not a relic of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, but a real, even fatal aspect of American life that was merely hidden from view. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 57 percent increase in American anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, compared to 2016. And Pittsburgh wasn’t the only anti-Semitic incident the week of the Pittsburgh attack, as a bomb was hand-delivered to billionaire philanthropist George Soros (a frequent target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories) that Monday. What’s more, as a new report from CNN reveals, anti-Semitism is also on the rise in Europe.
CNN’s poll of 7,092 people from seven countries showed that almost a quarter of respondents believe that “Jews have too much influence in business and finance.” And “Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.”
“One in five,” CNN continued, believe “[Jews] have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.”
At the same time that anti-Semitic beliefs have risen, awareness of the Holocaust has decreased. According to CNN, “A third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust, the mass murder of some six million Jews in lands controlled by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.”
This trend, CNN writes, was particularly apparent among young people in France: “One out of five people there between the ages of 18 and 34 said they’d never heard of [the Holocaust].” By comparison, across the other European countries surveyed, “Half of respondents said they know ‘a fair amount’ about the Holocaust, while only one out of five people said they know ‘a great deal.’ ”
Those that have heard of it, including two-thirds of those surveyed, CNN says, believe that future generations should be taught about the atrocities that occurred. This sentiment, however, is weakened a little by the third of respondents that believe Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own interests. Also striking is that while few people overall admitted to a personally unfavorable opinion of Jews (one in ten across the seven countries surveyed), CNN reports that “The figure rises to 15% in Poland and 19%—about one in five—in Hungary.”
These findings come just weeks after French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe revealed, in speech commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht attack on Jews throughout Germany, that a 69 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents occurred over the last year. “We are a very far cry from ridding ourselves of anti-Semitism,” he said, according to a BBC report.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also speaking on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, expressed alarm, saying, as the BBC reported, “We have sadly almost become accustomed to the fact that every synagogue, Jewish school, kindergarten, restaurant and cemetery needs to be either guarded by police or given special protection.”
Merkel, who is stepping down as chancellor at the end of her term in 2021, believes that the rise of far-right parties across Europe and countries’ inability to deal with an influx of immigrants is Europe’s “Achilles’ heel.” She added, speaking of the refugee crisis, that “This challenge seems to me to be a bigger question for the cohesion of the EU than the euro-zone crisis was.”
Merkel was emphatic that this behavior is unacceptable: “There is no excuse or justification for hunting people down, the use of violence and Nazi propaganda, or showing hostility for people who appear to be [foreign], or who own a Jewish restaurant or for attacking police.”
Read the full CNN report here.