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November 27, 2018 2:21 pm

Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial, ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Findings of CNN Poll of European Antisemitism

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Demonstrators in Paris gather in memory of Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor brutally murdered in an antisemitic assault. Photo: Reuters / Gonzalo Fuentes.

Israel’s national center for Holocaust commemoration and education said on Tuesday it was “deeply concerned” by the results of a new poll of seven European countries that demonstrated a rise in antisemitic beliefs along with a corresponding decline in awareness of the Nazi extermination of six million Jews during World War II.

“The results of this survey prove the necessity to intensify broad-based efforts in the area of Holocaust education and awareness, which is essential to any effort to contend with antisemitism,” a statement from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem declared, in response to the poll by global news broadcaster CNN on antisemitism in Europe.

The statement continued: “Yad Vashem remains determined to foster the requisite knowledge and provide means to teach about the Holocaust.”

Released on Tuesday, the poll queried public attitudes to Jews and the Holocaust in France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, the UK and Austria. Among the findings of the survey of more than 7,000 respondents was that one in 20 Europeans had never even heard of the Holocaust, while antisemitic tropes continued to thrive across the continent. One in four respondents in France, Germany and Austria believed that Jews had “too much influence” over the world’s wars and conflicts, while around half of respondents in Poland agreed with the contention that Israel “uses the Holocaust to justify its actions.”

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Among the more striking features of the poll was that despite these attitudes, Europeans generally held favorable views of Jews.

“In every country polled except Hungary, significantly more people said they had a favorable opinion of Jews than an unfavorable one. (In Hungary, favorable topped unfavorable 21 percent to 19 percent, with the rest saying they had neither a favorable nor unfavorable view),” CNN’s report on the survey noted.

But the conviction that Jews had too much financial and political power also led many respondents to the conclusion that there were far more Jewish people in the world than was actually the case.

“About two-thirds of the respondents in the survey guessed too high when asked what percentage of the world is Jewish, and similar numbers got the answer wrong for their own countries,” the CNN report said. “A quarter of Hungarians estimated that the world is more than 20 percent Jewish, and a fifth of British and Polish respondents said so.”

When it came to Holocaust awareness, one in five respondents aged 18-34 in France — from where 75,000 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps — said “they’d never heard of it.” Twelve percent of the same age-group of respondents in Austria — the birthplace of Adolf Hitler — said that they, too, were not aware of the Holocaust.

“Austria also had the highest number of people in the survey saying they knew ‘just a little,’ about the Holocaust,” CNN said. “Four out of 10 Austrian adults said that.” The report continued: “Across Europe, 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.'”

In its statement responding to the CNN findings, Yad Vashem argued that while “Holocaust education plays an indispensable role in combating antisemitism, it must also be augmented by effective government legislation and enforcement.”

The statement concluded: “Yad Vashem believes that by raising public awareness about the Shoah, not as a closed chapter in human history but as a relevant topic for our own time, the nations of Europe and elsewhere will be better equipped and motivated to fight racism and antisemitism.”

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