February 2, 2022 — Paris
Extensive surveys of France’s Jewish, Muslim, and general populations reveal the extent of unabated antisemitism threatening the country’s Jewish population, the largest in Europe. The three surveys were conducted by IFOP, a leading polling firm, for AJC in partnership with Fondapol, a major French think tank.
85% of French Jews say antisemitism is a widespread phenomenon in France today, and 73% say it has been increasing over the past ten years. In contrast, only 64% of the general population see antisemitism prevalent and rising.
Three-quarters, 74%, of French Jews have been victims of antisemitic acts during their lives. Assaults have included derogatory remarks (68%), threats on social media (28%), verbal threats (24%), and physical violence (20%).
More than one-third, 37%, of Jews say they feel threatened because of their religious affiliation. 35% say they have avoided wearing a style of dress that identifies them Jewishly, and 41% have avoided displaying mezuzas and other religious symbols.
“Fearing for one’s own safety and for children’s security has tragically become the new normal for most French Jews, leading many of them to choose to hide their Jewish identity and to tell their children to do so as well. This is simply unacceptable in any democracy that is supposed to protect all of its citizens,” said Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director of AJC Europe.
- 55% of Jewish parents ask their children to not wear yarmulkes or Stars of David.
- 45% ask their children to not tell others they are Jewish.
This follows on the experiences of Jewish children in schools.
- 32% of parents say their children have been the targets of antisemitic insults.
- 18% of parents have children who have been physically attacked.
Schools are the setting where there is little difference between Jews wearing distinctive items – 59% -- and those who do not – 57% -- who have been verbally abused or threatened.
In public places – the street, workplace, public transportation, social media – individuals who are more visibly Jewish are assaulted at a higher rate than those Jews who do not wear or carry items that convey their Jewish identity. For example, 68% of the victims of antisemitic acts in the street wore distinctive signs and 36% did not, while 57% of the victims in public transportation did and 16% did not.
With the persistence of antisemitism over many years, there is an apparent lack of confidence among Jews in bringing those responsible to justice. 80% of those who experienced an act of antisemitism did not file a complaint with French authorities, and 76% did not report it to a community association, such as the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ).
Concurrence of Jewish, General Population Views
77% of the Jewish and 73% of the general populations agree that antisemitism is a concern for all French society. Only 19% of Jews and 8% of general say antisemitism is solely a Jewish problem.
One-third, 34%, of the general French population say antisemitism is not talked about enough, while 51% say it is enough and 15% say too much.
Significant numbers of the French public respondents to the survey reported they have witnessed at least one incident of antisemitism, with 48% saying it was on social media, 38% on the street, and 36% in their workplace.
On the primary causes of antisemitism in France, there also is consensus:
- 62% of Jews and 53% of the general population say it is the rejection or hatred of Israel.
- 45% of Jews and 48% of the general population say Islamist ideas.
- 35% of Jews and 37% of the general population say conspiracy theories.
- 28% of Jews and 36% of the general population say extreme right-wing ideas.
- 21% of Jews and 13% of the general population say far left ideas.
The Muslim population, however, has a very different perspective on the sources of antisemitism in France.
- 49% say the extreme right wing.
- 46% say conspiracy theories.
- 20% say Islamist ideas.
- 13% say far left ideas.
36% of Muslims say there is too much talk about antisemitism, compared to 15% in the general population.
15% of Muslims admit to feeling antipathy towards Jews, compared to 5% of the general French population.
More than one-quarter of French people hold prejudices that are classic antisemitic tropes.
- 30% agree with the statement “Jews are richer than the average French person.”
- 26% agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the field of economics and finance.”
- 24% agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the media.”
- 30% agree with the statement “Jews use their status of victims of the Nazi genocide during the Second World War to their own advantage.”
The same views are more deeply ingrained among the Muslim population.
- 53% agree with the statement “Jews are wealthier than the average French person.”
- 51% agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the field of economics and finance.”
- 54% agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the media.”
- 40% agree with the statement “Jews use their status of victims of the Nazi genocide during the Second World War to their own advantage.”
However, young Muslims seem to be less inclined to hold certain antisemitic stereotypes than the older generation. While 60% of Muslims 50 years and over say that “Jews hold too much power in the media,” 40% of those ages 18-24 agree. And while 59% of Muslims older than 50 say believe Jews hold too much power in the field of economics and finance, 34% of the younger cohort do.
Only 39% of France’s general population say that commemorating the Holocaust is essential, while 45% say it is important but not essential, and 16% say it is not important.
Asked if Holocaust remembrance prevents the commemoration of other tragedies in history, 65% said no and 35% said yes.
The AJC surveys of the French Jewish, Muslim, and General populations, ages 18 and over, were conducted by the polling firm IFOP on behalf of AJC in partnership with the Fondation pour l’inovation politique (Fondapol). IFOP polled 1,509 individuals representative of the general population, from December 16-20, 2021; 521 French Jews from November 24, 2021 to January 10, 2022; and 501 French Muslims from December 5, 2021 to January 10, 2022.
AJC, Fondapol and IFOP conducted similar surveys in France in 2019.