Advocating Israel’s destruction is anti-Semitic, say majority of French voters

Asked whether it was possible to support the destruction of the State of Israel without being anti-Semitic, a full 63 percent of respondents answered that it was not.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

A growing number of French voters now perceive a clear connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, according to a new survey published by CRIF, the representative body of Jews in France.

Asked whether it was possible to support the destruction of the State of Israel without being anti-Semitic, a full 63 percent of respondents answered that it was not. Of these, 29 percent were adamant that advocating Israel’s destruction was always anti-Semitic, while 34 percent said this was true most of the time.

In another question concerning the definition of “anti-Zionism,” 43 percent understood the term as meaning support for Israel’s elimination as a sovereign, independent state, while another 38 percent said they weren’t sure.

Only 19 percent believed that anti-Zionism was the same as criticizing the policies of successive Israeli governments.

And while 83 percent agreed that it was entirely possible to criticize Israeli government policy without being anti-Semitic, 61 percent of respondents concurred that in the present day, many anti-Semites“are trying to make their ideas respectable by attacking Israel rather than the Jews.”

Conducted by the IPSOS polling organization on behalf of CRIF, the survey questioned 1,000 French voters aged 18 and above on their perceptions of anti-Semitism in France today. Commissioned to mark the 15th anniversary of the horrific murder of Ilan Halimi, a young French Jewish man, at the hands of an anti-Semitic criminal gang known as “The Barbarians,” the survey probed the French public’s awareness of Halimi’s ordeal alongside its view of broader issues relating to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The survey confirmed that knowledge of Halimi’s 2006 kidnapping and murder — predicated on the belief that his family would pay a large ransom because, as one gang member told police, “Jews are wealthy” — remained widespread among French voters. Nonetheless, there was a marked downward trend in awareness among voters under 35, only 54 percent of whom said that they’d heard of the Halimi case, compared with 70 percent of those aged 35-59 and 82 percent of those over 60.

On the wider questions, 74 per cent of respondents agreed that anti-Semitism was a “widespread” phenomenon, while 56 percent agreed that the problem had worsened in France over the last 10 years.

The vast majority of respondents supported a more proactive approach to anti-Semitism on the part of the French authorities. Thirty-three percent of respondents agreed that anti-Semitism should be a “priority issue” for the government and law enforcement, while another 55 percent saw it as an “important subject, but not a priority.”

Asked to identify the groups in French society in which anti-Semitism was most widespread, 82 percent of respondents named the Muslim community. Significantly, there was agreement on this point across the political spectrum, with 72 percent of supporters of the extreme left La France Insoumise party and 86 percent of supporters of the far-right Rassemblement National party selecting “Muslims” as their answer to the question, “Do you feel that anti-Semitism is widespread or rare in each of the following categories of the population?”

When it came to awareness of anti-Semitism internationally, North African and Middle Eastern countries were at the top of the list. Eighty percent of respondents named Iran as a country where anti-Semitism was a major factor in public opinion, with 72 percent naming Algeria similarly. Fifty-five percent said that anti-Semitism was rising in neighboring Germany as well, while 52 percent agreed the same in the case of the US.