One in five French youths ‘never heard of Shoah’

As the Sec­ond World War fades from liv­ing mem­ory, a CNN poll re­veals grow­ing an­tisemitic at­ti­tudes in Europe

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JC REPORTER

A FIFTH of French young adults have never heard of the Holo­caust, ac­cord­ing to the star­tling con­clu­sions of a sur­vey on an an­ti­semitism con­ducted across Europe.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion found an­tisemitic at­ti­tudes were per­va­sive across the con­ti­nent, with many be­liev­ing Jews had “too much” in­flu­ence in busi­ness, finance, pol­i­tics and the me­dia.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions posed for CNN by the poll­ster Com­res, a third of Euro­peans in the coun­tries sur­veyed said they knew “just a lit­tle” or noth­ing at all about the Holo­caust.

The fig­ure was even higher among young peo­ple. In Ger­many, which has spent decades ed­u­cat­ing gen­er­a­tions on the hor­rors of its wartime past, 40 per cent of young adults said they knew “lit­tle or noth­ing about the Holo­caust”.

Mean­while in France, which is home to Europe’s largest Jewish pop­u­la­tion, 20 per cent of young adults said they had never heard of it.

“The re­sults are shock­ing, and in­di­cate deeply held prej­u­dices against Jews not only per­sist but are wide­spread,” said CNN cor­re­spon­dent Clarissa Ward, who worked on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“The lack of knowl­edge about the Holo­caust is par­tic­u­larly sur­pris­ing, given that tens of thou­sands of Holo­caust sur­vivors are still alive and the Sec­ond World War ended less than 75 years ago.”

Yad Vashem, Is­rael’s Holo­caust re­mem­brance cen­tre, said it was “deeply con­cerned” by the fig­ures and said they proved the need to raise aware­ness.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu was among those ex­press­ing dis­may over the find­ings.

He said in a tele­vised in­ter­view: “I’m con­cerned, be­cause I think an­ti­semitism is an an­cient dis­ease and when it rears its ugly head, it first at­tacks the Jews, but it never stops with that, and then it sweeps en­tire so­ci­eties, as hap­pened ob­vi­ously in mid-cen­tury Europe.

“First in Ger­many and then through­out all of Europe and the con­se­quences were hor­ri­ble.”

France’s min­is­ter for gen­der equal-

ity Mar­lène Schi­appa said the fig­ures were “alarm­ing”.

She said: “In France, the in­crease in an­tisemitic acts, as well as the in­crease in ho­mo­pho­bic acts, is an ur­gent con­cern for the govern­ment.

“We will work to­gether to pro­duce counter-speeches and to de­con­struct prej­u­dices.”

The sur­vey — which was com­pleted before last month’s mass shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue that left 11 wor­ship­pers dead — re­vealed a mixed picture of at­ti­tudes in which:

Many Euro­peans rad­i­cally over­es­ti­mate the num­ber of Jews in the world;

More than half think their gov­ern­ments needed to do more to fight an­ti­semitism;

A quar­ter of re­spon­dents be­lieve an­ti­semitism is a re­sponse to the ac­tions of Is­rael.

A small ma­jor­ity of Euro­peans — 54 per cent — be­lieve Is­rael has the right to ex­ist as a Jewish state, although a third be­lieve the coun­try uses the Holo­caust to jus­tify its ac­tions.

Only 7 per cent of re­spon­dents were cor­rect that Jews make up un­der 1 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion.

One in seven peo­ple polled thought Jews made up more than 20 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion — which would amount to 1.44 bil­lion peo­ple. In fact, the lat­est es­ti­mate is that there are 14.7 mil­lion Jews in the world, or less than 1 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion.

Only 7 per cent of re­spon­dents iden­ti­fied the cor­rect pro­por­tion.

But Mr Ne­tanyahu also praised Euro­pean gov­ern­ments’ work to com­bat an­ti­semitism in their coun­tries.

“I spoke to Merkel, Macron, May and oth­ers — they’re putting up a fight,” he said, re­fer­ring to the lead­ers of Ger­many, France and the UK.

“I saw Vik­tor Or­ban in Hun­gary — he’s opened up a cen­tre against an­ti­semitism. I saw Se­bas­tian Kurz in Aus­tria — he just held a con­fer­ence against an­ti­semitism, and that’s en­cour­ag­ing.”

Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem’s chair­man, said his cen­tre had been in­ten­si­fy­ing its ed­u­ca­tion work in re­cent years: “We have cre­ated numer­ous tools to fur­ther our ed­u­ca­tional ef­forts, in or­der to en­sure a deeper un­der­stand­ing about the Holo­caust and an­ti­semitism.”

More than 10,000 peo­ple world­wide had joined its on­line course en­ti­tled An­ti­semitism — From its Ori­gins to the Present, he added.

Com­Res in­ter­viewed 7,092 adults for CNN in seven coun­tries in Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, Poland, Hun­gary, Swe­den and Aus­tria in Septem­ber 2018


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