May 10, 2022 — Berlin
American Jewish Committee (AJC) polls of the general and Muslim populations in Germany show widespread recognition of the gravity of antisemitism in Germany. Overall, the two groups are largely aligned in their views, even as anti-Jewish attitudes are more prevalent among Germany’s Muslim population.
Sixty percent of the general German population considers antisemitism a widespread phenomenon in Germany, and 64% say the problem has increased over the past 10 years. Significantly, 73% see antisemitism as a problem affecting all German society, while 8% say it is a problem only for Jews.
Among Muslims, who comprise five percent of Germany’s population, 53% say antisemitism in Germany is widespread, and 51% say it has increased over the past 10 years. Two-thirds of Muslims view antisemitism as a problem for all German society, while 14% see it as a problem only for Jews.
Asked how much antisemitism in Germany is discussed, 31% of the German general population and 28% of Muslims said not enough, 52% of general and 55% of Muslims said sufficiently, and 17% of both groups said there is too much discussion.
“Antisemitism in Germany: A Representative Survey of the German Population and Muslims Living in Germany” was carried out for AJC Berlin by Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research. It is the first AJC survey of Germans since 2002, and AJC’s first poll of Muslims in Germany on attitudes towards Jews.
While relations between Germany’s Muslim and Jewish populations are generally sound, a 2018 EU Agency for Fundamental Rights study showed Jews in Germany reported 30% of antisemitic incidents were perpetrated by Muslim citizens. Moreover, in May 2021 during the Israel-Hamas conflict, many committing acts of anti-Jewish violence to protest against Israel were adherents of militant Islamist ideologies. Amid these lingering tensions, AJC carried out the survey to better understand and help advance productive Muslim-Jewish relations in Germany.
The AJC surveys come as German authorities reported 3,028 antisemitic crimes occurred in 2021, the highest figure since police began in 2001 to track reported antisemitic incidents.
“We are encouraged that majorities of Germany’s overall and Muslim populations recognize the extent of antisemitism in their country,” said AJC Berlin Director Remko Leemhuis. “Our surveys also illustrate how deeply rooted antisemitism is in all sectors of society. Leaders of political parties should not weaponize antisemitism for political goals.”
Asked if they had personally observed acts of antisemitism, 10% of the general German population and 22% of Muslims saw physical assaults on Jewish individuals,14% of general and 23% of Muslims saw attacks on Jewish property, 22% of general and 35% of Muslims saw insults, mockery threats or intimidation targeting Jews, and 41% of general and 51% of Muslims observed jokes and discussion prejudicial to Jews or questioning the Holocaust.
Among those who reported they have experienced or observed antisemitic acts at least once in their lifetimes, 61% of the general and 72% of the Muslim population surveyed say the incidents occurred on social media, 44% of general and 56% of Muslims in school or university, 40% of general and 51% of Muslims in the streets, 32% of general and 36% of Muslims in a workplace or professional environment, and 32% of general and 39% of Muslims on public transportation.
Sixty-two percent of both the general and Muslim populations expressed shock about opponents of Covid-related health policy drawing parallels with the situation of Jews during World War II. Only 10% of the general population and 7% of Muslims were not shocked, while 28% of general and 31% of Muslim Germans said they were unfamiliar with the phenomenon.
What Would You Do?
Asked what they would do if there were antisemitic acts at a demonstration, 57% of the general Germans sample definitely would leave, 29% probably would, but 9% probably would not and 5% certainly would not. 41% of the Muslims definitely would leave, 34% probably would, but 16% probably would not and 9% certainly would not.
Sources of Antisemitism in Germany
The general and Muslim populations diverge on perceptions of the main sources of antisemitism in Germany.
- 43% of general and 37% of Muslims say right-wing ideas
- 21% of general and 31% of Muslims say rejection or hatred of Israel
- 17% of general and 8% of Muslims say Islamist ideas
- 16% of general and 18% of Muslims say conspiracy theories
- 3% of general and 6% of Muslims say far-left ideas.
Forty-eight percent of the general German and 39% of the Muslim population consider commemoration of the Holocaust essential, while 43% of general and 40% of Muslims view it as important but not essential. Those who believe such commemorations are not important are 9% of the general and 21% of Muslims polled.
When asked whether Holocaust commemoration prevents the expression of other tragedies in history, 60% of the general German and 50% of the Muslim population said it does not.
Statements on Jews in Germany
Both the general German and Muslim populations were asked if they agree or disagree with certain statements about Jews, including:
- 34% of the general German population and 54% of Muslims agree with the statement “Jews today use their status as victims of Nazi genocide during World War II for their own benefit.”
- 60% of Germans and 39% of Muslims agree with the statement “Jews are unfairly attacked when things go wrong.”
- 18% of Germans and 46% of Muslims agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in the media.”
- 18% of Germans and 45% of Muslims agree with the statement “Jews have too much power in politics.”
Antisemitism or Criticism of Israel
- 35% of the general population and 38% of Muslims say blaming Jews for Israel’s policies is antisemitic while 26% of general and 34% of Muslims say it is criticism of Israel that is not antisemitic.
- 21% of general and 19% of Muslims say calling Israel a racist state is antisemitic, and 42% of general and 56% of Muslims say it is criticism of Israel.
Regarding Germany’s relations with Israel, there is a divergence in views. 48% of Germans agree, and 31% disagree with former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2008 statement that Israel’s security is part of Germany’s national interest, while 31% of Muslims agree and 48% disagree.
Experience of Discrimination
The AJC survey also explored how various sectors of Germany’s population have experienced discrimination. Some 47% of Muslims, compared with 8% of the general population, reported feeling occasionally or often threatened or discriminated against due to religious affiliation. Likewise, 44% of German Muslims reported feeling threatened or discriminated against occasionally or often based on ethnic identity, compared to 11% of the general population.
The Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research carried out the online surveys of 1,025 Germans and 561 German-speaking Muslims 18 and older between December 22, 2021, and January 18, 2022.