Anti-Israel protesters in Barcelona
Anti-Israel protesters in Barcelona last year. Photo by AP
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A new poll by the Spanish government released on the eve of Rosh Hashanah in Madrid shows that one in three Spaniards is anti-Semitic, maintaining negative opinions about Jews. Another 46 percent had favorable views of Jews.

One in nine Spaniards, the survey found, supports the statement that "Israel should disappear because it was established on Arab land." Another 77 percent disagree with the statement. The results of the study indicate that the major cause of the rise in anti-Semitic feelings is Israel's policy toward the Palestinians in the territories.

The study follows poll results from 2008 and 2009 conducted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Pew Research Center showing that close to half of all Spaniards at the time held anti-Semitic views. The two polls designated Spain an anti-Semitic country after finding that more than 35 percent of its citizens held anti-Jewish views. Ironically, however, in the most recent poll, 34.6 percent of respondents expressed anti-Semitic views, thereby barely escaping the anti-Semitic label according to that criterion. At an event at which the new findings were released, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos said the poll showed Spanish society is not anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.

The new poll, in which about 1,000 Spanish residents were questioned by phone, was conducted by the Madrid-based Casa Sefarad-Israel (Spain-Israel House ), which is affiliated with the Spanish Foreign Ministry and promotes ties between Spain and Israel and world Jewry. The survey was conducted in April, before the Israel Navy's confrontation at the end of May with the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Anti-Semitic sentiment exists in Spain despite the absence of a sizable Jewish community in the country since the Spanish Inquisition at the end of the 15th century. Some 40,000 Jews currently live in the county of 40 million.

Senior Spanish government officials sought to soften the impact of the poll results, noting that 54 percent of respondents hold negative views toward Muslims. About 1.5 million Muslims live in Spain. .

Only Iran was viewed less favorably than Israel in the poll results. Moratinos and leaders of the Spanish Jewish community attributed the rise in anti-Semitic sentiment in Spain to the anti-Israel stance of most of the Spanish media. In contrast, however, 67 percent of respondents equally blamed Israel and the Palestinians for the conflict between them, and about 83 percent said Jews are entitled to live in peace and security in Israel once its borders are recognized by the international community.