Anti-Semitism seen on the rise in Poland
University of Warsaw researchers discover sharp spike in negative attitudes, acceptance of hate speech toward Jews
WARSAW — Poland has seen a rise in anti-Semitism over the last two years, partly fueled by Europe’s migrant crisis, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The University of Warsaw’s Center for Research on Prejudice found acceptance for anti-Semitic hate speech — especially among young Poles on the internet — rose from 2014 to 2016 compared to previous years.
Their study was based on a sample of 1,000 adults and 700 youths. The number of surveyed Poles who declared positive attitudes towards Jews dropped from 28 percent in 2015 to 23% in 2016.
Researchers attribute the increase to a spike in Islamophobia and anti-migrant sentiment triggered by Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II. Many of the migrants were from conflict-ridden countries like Syria and Libya.
Politicians in eastern EU states, notably Poland’s populist leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, were quick to raise the specter of Islamic State militants carrying out terror attacks once inside the bloc.
Very few refugees or migrants arrived in Poland after Kaczynski’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party refused them entry.
Yet, the Warsaw University researchers concluded that “fear of Muslims that arose between 2014 and 2016 has increased negative feelings towards Jews among people regardless of their age or political affiliation.”
The study found that 37% of those surveyed voiced negative attitudes towards Jews in 2016 compared to 32% the previous year.
Fifty-six percent said they would not accept a Jewish person in their family, an increase of nearly 10 points compared to 2014.
Nearly a third (32%) said they did not want Jewish neighbors, compared to 27% in 2014.
The Jewish community in Poland, with a population of 38 million, has fewer than 10,000 people.
Prior to the Holocaust, it boasted 3.3 million members, or around 10% of the Polish population. Up to 300,000 Polish Jews survived the war, but most then fled the country, many to Israel.
Around 11% of adults and 24% of younger Poles admitted to making occasional anti-Semitic remarks.