Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Xenophobia on the Continent

A disturbing new trend is emerging across Europe. Anti-Semitism and xenophobia are on the rise. A growing minority of citizens in several European countries holds unfavorable opinions of Jews. Negative views of Israel, sympathy with the Palestinian cause, rising anti-Americanism, and a backlash against globalization and immigration all play a role in this trend.

Research by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, as well as polls by the Anti-Defamation League, make clear that anti-Jewish sentiments are increasing. Granted, the breadth of European anti-Semitism should not be overstated. This rise in negative attitudes toward Jews has for the most part been modest, and anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe remain much less common than anti-Muslim views. Most of the Europeans surveyed by Pew continue to hold favorable opinions of Jews and, compared with other regions of the world, Europeans remain relatively tolerant. For instance, anti-Jewish sentiments are almost universal in the three Arab nations surveyed–95% or more in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt say they have an unfavorable opinion of Jews.

Though they may be modest trends, in light of the dark history of anti-Semitism in Europe, any uptick is surely troubling. Moreover, rising anti-Jewish views are part of a broader pattern of increasing xenophobia; European attitudes toward Muslims have also turned more negative over the last few years. And in Western Europe, the same groups tend to have the most negative opinions of both Jews and Muslims: the less educated, those over fifty and people on the political right. All these features combined lead to a troubling trend it would be unwise to ignore.

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