During the past two years, there has been a decline in support for anti-Semitic views in Western Europe, yet support for Israel has also eroded.
These trends were established in a new survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League in 10 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). The survey's findings were released in Berlin, ahead of an international conference on anti-Semitism, convened by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Less than a third of the survey respondents said Israel was an "open, democratic country." The number of respondents who blamed Israel for the eruption of violence in the Middle East doubled the number who blamed the Palestinians.
Among the West European countries examined in the survey, Germany was the leader in terms of support for anti-Semitic views.
In, Germany, 36 percent of respondents held anti-Semitic views, compared to 37 percent in 2002. In France, the 2004 figure was 25 percent, down from 35 percent two years ago. In the U.K., the 2004 figure was 24 percent, compared to 18 percent in 2002.
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said the decrease in support for anti-Semitism is the result of changes in the way European governments have related to the issue during the past two years. Yet Foxman warned that media outlets and governments in Europe display a one-sided attitude toward Israel; they stimulate anti-Israel feelings, and potentially foster anti-Semitic beliefs, he said.
"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."
Foxman praised French President Jacques Chirac for recognizing anti-Semitism as a problem in France, and for sponsoring educational and legislative initiatives to combat it.
In terms of Israel, 34 percent of survey respondents said Israel wants to reach an agreement with the Palestinians (the figure two years ago was 40 percent). Only 31 percent of respondents said Israel was an open and democratic society (compared to 38 percent in 2002).
"These findings reflect a bias against Israel in Europe among government and media," Foxman said. "These attitudes not only create an atmosphere that is unfriendly to Israel but also makes it more difficult for Europe to play a role in the peace process."