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No Left Turn: Israel, East and West

Is antisemitism rooted in Eastern Europe? The answer is a complicated one

Robin Shepherd

In this report:

Surveys in recent years suggest that antisemitic prejudices in Poland remain widespread. This year, one put dislike for Jews at 45 per cent.3 Others indicate that some antisemitic attitudes may actually be growing rather than diminishing.4 And in Central and Eastern Europe, it is not just Poland.

A survey published by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 2004 found that more than a third of Jews in Hungary – the country in the region with by far the largest Jewish population (around 70,000) – thought there was a ‘high level’ of antisemitism in the country. Other surveys on the former communist world show a pattern of denial in some quarters over the role of local collaborators in the rounding up and deportation of Jews to death camps during the Holocaust.6 The picture is a depressing one.

Interestingly, though, it stands in stark –indeed, striking – contrast with observable attitudes to Israel. Antisemitic prejudices have not translated into virulent anti-Zionism. Antisemitism, or, at least, antisemitism alone, it seems, cannot, therefore, be at the root of the problem. So what is?

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