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February 23, 2021 4:21 pm

Advocating Israel’s Destruction Is Antisemitic, Say Clear Majority of French Voters in New Survey

avatar by Ben Cohen


Vandalized mailboxes with swastikas covering portraits of the late Holocaust survivor and renowned French politician Simone Veil are seen in Paris, France, Feb. 12, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Benoit Tessier.

A growing number of French voters now perceive a clear connection between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, according to a new survey published by CRIF, the representative body of Jews in France.

Asked whether it was possible to support the destruction of the State of Israel without being antisemitic, a full 63 percent of respondents answered that it was not. Of these, 29 percent were adamant that advocating Israel’s destruction was always antisemitic, while 34 percent said this was true most of the time.

In another question concerning the definition of “anti-Zionism,” 43 percent understood the term as meaning support for Israel’s elimination as a sovereign, independent state, while another 38 percent said they weren’t sure. Only 19 percent believed that anti-Zionism was the same as criticizing the policies of successive Israeli governments.

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And while 83 percent agreed that it was entirely possible to criticize Israeli government policy without being antisemitic, 61 percent of respondents concurred that in the present day, many antisemites “are trying to make their ideas respectable by attacking Israel rather than the Jews.”

Conducted by the IPSOS polling organization on behalf of CRIF, the survey questioned 1,000 French voters aged 18 and above on their perceptions of antisemitism in France today. Commissioned to mark the 15th anniversary of the horrific murder of Ilan Halimi, a young French Jewish man, at the hands of an antisemitic criminal gang known as “The Barbarians,” the survey probed the French public’s awareness of Halimi’s ordeal alongside its view of broader issues relating to anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

The survey confirmed that knowledge of Halimi’s 2006 kidnapping and murder — predicated on the belief that his family would pay a large ransom because, as one gang member told police, “Jews are wealthy” — remained widespread among French voters. Nonetheless, there was a marked downward trend in awareness among voters under 35, only 54 percent of whom said that they’d heard of the Halimi case, compared with 70 percent of those aged 35-59 and 82 percent of those over 60.

On the wider questions, 74 per cent of respondents agreed that antisemitism was a “widespread” phenomenon, while 56 percent agreed that the problem had worsened in France over the last 10 years.

The vast majority of respondents supported a more proactive approach to antisemitism on the part of the French authorities. Thirty-three percent of respondents agreed that antisemitism should be a “priority issue” for the government and law enforcement, while another 55 percent saw it as an “important subject, but not a priority.”

Asked to identify the groups in French society in which antisemitism was most widespread, 82 percent of respondents named the Muslim community. Significantly, there was agreement on this point across the political spectrum, with 72 percent of supporters of the extreme left La France Insoumise party and 86 percent of supporters of the far-right Rassemblement National party selecting “Muslims” as their answer to the question, “Do you feel that antisemitism is widespread or rare in each of the following categories of the population?”

When it came to awareness of antisemitism internationally, North African and Middle Eastern countries were at the top of the list. Eighty percent of respondents named Iran as a country where antisemitism was a major factor in public opinion, with 72 percent naming Algeria similarly. Fifty-five percent said that antisemitism was rising in neighboring Germany as well, while 52 percent agreed the same in the case of the US.

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