Pew Research issued a study last week that mostly got buried under all of the election polling, but which may have significant impact on Western foreign policy over the next several years. In the extract, Pew notes that anti-Semitism has risen substantially over the past four years in Europe. With the exception of the UK, the major EU nations have all gotten more hostile to Jews in general, and Israel in particular:
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.
Pew tries to moderate the impact of its own findings by noting that Europe hasn’t gotten as bad as Jordan and Egypt. That’s hardly a tough bar to clear, however, since anti-Semitism in those countries run around 95%. I suppose 46% in Spain looks better than that, but not by much — and neither does Poland’s 36%, Russia’s 34%, nor German’s 25%. All of these represent sharp increases; Spain’s rate more than doubled during this four-year period.
In comparison, the Anglosphere seems much more tolerant. Anti-Semitism in the US runs at just 7%, somewhat lower than in 2004. The UK holds at 9%, the same level as 2004, although it had dropped to 7% in 2005.
What does this mean for foreign policy? It will make the US and the UK more isolated in its support for Israel, for one thing. The rising hostility towards Jews and Israel may push Europe much closer to the mullahs in Iran, kneecapping our ability to contain the Iranian nuclear threat. The only thing keeping that from happening now is the fear in other Arab nations about the Iranians going nuclear.
Pew also tries pulling a little moral-equivalency sleight of hand at the end of its excerpt:
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.
I don’t recall the Jews terrorizing Madrid, London, Beslan, or Moscow. I don’t recall Israel rising up to demand the death of European editors and publishers after printing cartoons criticizing Jews. The Jews in France didn’t conduct nightly riots in the banlieus and burn hundreds of cars every night. If Muslims have seen a rise in negative attitudes in Europe, it’s not exactly an irrational reaction, and it’s hardly equivalent to anti-Semitism on a continent that saw mankind’s worst genocide on Jews within some of our lifetimes.