A major new survey has shown a huge rise in the number of Poles and Ukrainians who hold antisemitic beliefs, with almost half of all respondents in those two countries now holding such sentiments.
The Anti-Defamation League poll was taken this summer over 14 European countries and compared the results to those gained in 2015 and 2016 to show a shocking change.
In Poland, 48 percent of respondents now display antisemitic attitudes, compared to 37 percent in 2015, while in Ukraine, which is home to an estimated 300,000 Jews, the rise was even greater – up from 32 percent in 2016 to 46 percent now.
The prevalence of antisemitic beliefs also continued to be high in Hungary, with 42 percent of respondents registering such attitudes, but this has risen only gradually, from 40 percent.
All three countries have had nationalist governments in recent years, with nationalism in Ukraine stoked by Russian military intervention in Crimea and the eastern regions.
Both Poland and Hungary have right-wing governments that have been criticised by the European Union for undermining trust in, or the capabilities of, their democratic institutions.
In addition, Hungary’s governing party has attacked a liberal Jewish philanthropist, in part by using antisemitic themes, while in Poland coordinated attempts have been made to manage the messaging around the role of Poles in the Holocaust, including legislation.
In Western Europe, the study found that antisemitic views were either stable or down, with decreases in Britain, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Austria.
Denmark saw an increase from 8 percent to 10 percent, with Belgium going from 21 percent to 24 percent, while France was unchanged at 17 percent. Sweden, which has had problems in the past, had the lowest rate at 4 percent.
There was good news too in Italy and Austria – both posted significant decreases, dropping 11 and 8 percentage points respectively to 18 percent and 20 percent.