Very Favorable 28%
Somewhat Favorable 53%
Now, at a glance it doesn't look so bad in France, does it? But if we take a glance at this article, we see quite a different picture from the French, themselves.
Two thirds of French people think that anti-semitism is on the rise in France, despite recently released government statistics illustrating a downturn.
Among the 1,005 people polled for the weekly magazine Paris Match on 2 and 3 March, 64 percent said they think the problem has increased, with more marginally women than men recognising the recent upsurge in anti-Jewish hatred.
To France's credit, they have tried to fight anti-semitism. But despite it's best efforts, it's very difficult to reverse attitudinal trends simply by enacting laws forbidding them.
Currently, in most of Europe, it is against the law to deny the Holocaust. Here is one case from last year, worthy of some consideration.
An Austrian court has sentenced the British historian David Irving to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust while in Austria in 1989, dismissing his argument that he had changed his views.
While I think this law goes way too far, I think it is somewhat of a sign there is a consensus among those in power; they do not want to go back down the road taken by Germany in the early part of last century (one that led to the systematic slaughter of people, simply for being Jewish). The reason I say this is because you cannot legislate attitudes or morality. And if someone has an offensive attitude, I feel it's best to allow them the right to express it, so that the rest of us can see who it is and use it as a teaching tool for others that are forming their opinions (especially young people, in the formative years of their lives).
But this attitude is certainly not limited to France. In this article published today in the Jerusalem Post, we see there is cause for concern in other countries in Europe, as well.
Thirty-nine percent of Europeans believe Jews have too much power in the business world, while 44% think Jews have too much power in international financial markets, according to the results of a survey published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday.
The survey of five European countries - France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Poland - showed that a large number of Europeans continued to harbor anti-Jewish attitudes, holding on to the classical anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories that have haunted Jews through the centuries.
If this poll has any measure of accuracy at all, 44% is a rather large number. Another interesting thing to note is, four of the countries surveyed are predominantly Catholic.
But, if that is not enough, here's another fly in the ointment from the same article:
The survey also showed that large portions of the European public continue to believe that Jews still dwell too much on the Holocaust. Overall, 47% of those surveyed thought the statement was "probably true."
On one hand we have the "powers that be" prosecuting those that deny the Holocaust and on the other, we have people that think Jews ruminate too much on the subject. One must pose the question: How much of this is due to the ridiculous law or more plainly, is this a backlash of that law?
But back to the Catholic issue.
Historically, Jews in Europe have suffered persecution and discrimination, because of early church views that Jews were guilty of crucifying Christ. It matters not that the church teaches that Christ willingly laid down his life for all of us, they still bore then and still bear today, the brunt of that event:
In addition, 51% said they believed Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their country and 20% of those surveyed continue to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.
And if that is not enough, there's this little issue of Israel's existence and its resolve to defend itself, from those that seek to destroy it:
Meanwhile, 25% said that their opinion of Jews was influenced by Israel's actions and of those, 52% said their opinion of Jews was worse as a result of the actions taken by Israel.
How many times have we all heard that being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic? I know that I have personally read and heard this argument before. And while this may be the case in some people's view, this point bears out that it is not necessarily true in all cases.
Here's the point, I want to make in all of this.
Being something is never a cause to hate. And while some people's attitudes are offensive, they should have the right to express them. But equally, those that are the targets of such hate speech certainly have the right to form their own opinions and express them, as well. In the grander scheme of things, words of hate are bad enough (this much is true), but they are preferable to acts of hate. It is there, where we must concentrate our efforts.
If someone is found guilty of an act of violence against someone merely because they are who they are, then the penalty should be severe enough to discourage others from doing the same thing. Everyone has the right to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on others' rights. But even more importantly, we have to recognize the problem, before we can fix it. And clearly from all of the data I have seen, there is a problem in Europe that many Europeans either refuse to accept, or try to explain away with some feeble reasonings, by using obscure polls that are not necessarily reflective of the real situation.