Survey: Israel-Gaza Conflict Sparked Sharp Rise in German anti-Semitism

One in four respondents to new poll equate Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians to Nazi persecution during the Holocaust.

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Pro-Gaza demonstration in Berlin, Germany, July 21, 2014.
Pro-Gaza demonstration in Berlin, Germany, July 21, 2014.Credit: AP

REUTERS – German anti-Semitism and resentment toward Israel has risen sharply in recent months, with more than one in four respondents in a new poll equating the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians to Nazi persecution of Jews during World War Two.

The biannual survey on xenophobia in Germany by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation showed broad measures of anti-Semitism on the decline over the past decade.

But it also showed a spike in negative views toward Israel and Jews in general between June and September, coinciding with the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed during the 50-day Gaza conflict. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians died.

When asked in September, for example, whether they believed Jews, because of their actions, were partly responsible for their own persecution, 18 percent of respondents agreed, up from less than 8 percent in June.

Just over 27 percent of those surveyed in September said they broadly or fully agreed with the idea that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was no different than Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, when six million Jews were murdered.

That survey result was still down significantly from 2004, when over 51 percent of respondents agreed with this statement.

One in five respondents, in the survey of 1,915 German citizens, said Israel's policies made Jews less likeable.

"The lines between anti-Semitism and substantive criticism of Israel are becoming blurred and that is a problem," the Friedrich Ebert Foundation said in a statement.

The survey was released a week after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned at a conference in Berlin that "hatred of Jews" was on the rise in Germany and across Europe amid spiraling violence in the Middle East.

During the height of the Gaza war this summer, Jews were attacked and slogans like "Gas the Jews!" chanted at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Germany.

Petrol bombs were also thrown at a synagogue in the western city of Wuppertal which had been burnt down on Kristallnacht – a Nazi attack on the Jews in 1938 – and subsequently rebuilt.

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