Fifth of Germans hold some anti-Semitic views - study

Tue, Jan 24, 2012, 00:00

A FIFTH of Germans hold latent anti-Semitic views, according to a study commissioned for the Bundestag.

Given the tiny Jewish population – just 0.24 per cent of Germany’s population – the study suggests the prejudice is a knock-on effect of the near erasure of Jewish life in Germany after the Holocaust.

“Anti-Semitism in our society is based on widespread prejudices, deeply rooted in clichés and on sheer ignorance about Jews and Judaism,” said Peter Longerich, one of the authors.

Jewish life in Germany has experienced something of a revival over the last two decades.

While the community numbered fewer than 30,000 in 1989, immigration from Russia has seen the population swell to more than 200,000.

Last week a new Jewish weekly newspaper was launched in Germany, which its authors dubbed “the world’s fastest-growing Jewish community”.

However yesterday’s report, compiled from data in various other studies, notes that anti-Jewish insults remain deeply rooted in popular culture, particularly in soccer fan culture.

References to Auschwitz, gas chambers and burning synagogues are part and parcel of terrace chants.

Schoolchildren, the report notes, use the term “You Jew” as an insult. A fifth of Germans, according to the study, agree with the proposition: “Jews have too much power in business.”

These latent anti-Jewish views make people susceptible to recruitment by far-right groups.

With about 26,000 members, these fringe groups, rather than the general population, are responsible for about 90 per cent of crimes with an anti-Semitic motivation.

The report calls on politicians to pursue better co-ordination of anti-Semitism measures at local, state and federal level.

In a pan-European comparison, German attitudes placed it in the mid-range of European anti-Semitism. Anti-Jewish feeling was far more widespread in Poland, Hungary and Portugal.