On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the antisemitic murder of Mireille Knoll and on the occasion of the week of education and action against racism and antisemitism, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) presented the results of a very instructive survey on “the knowledge of the Jewish world by the French”.
First of all, the survey reveals a higher level of antisemitic prejudice among the new generations than among the older ones. In particular, 42% of the respondents under 35 years of age adhere to 6 or more antisemitic prejudices. In his interview given to the newspaper Le Point on 22 March 2023, the President of CRIF said on this subject: “We were convinced for a long time that antisemitism would die out with time, but we realise today that time is now working against us. Antisemitism is taking on new, contemporary forms, against which our traditional tools of struggle are no longer relevant.”
The survey also reveals a kind of collapse of the French people’s knowledge of religions in general, and of Judaism in particular. In particular, the survey reveals that more than 70% of respondents do not know the chronological order of appearance of the three monotheistic religions. Only 20 to 30% of those questioned know how to answer basic questions about the Jewish world (Shabbat days, main dietary prohibitions, etc.).
If according to this survey, having Jewish people in one’s close circle makes respondents more sensitive to possible antisemitic words and allows them to be more receptive to the positive contribution of Jews in France, 85% of the respondents do not have Jewish people in their circle.
Also, and even though this week is dedicated to education and actions against racism and antisemitism, the survey reveals that for 16% of the French respondents under 35 years old, the departure of French Jews to Israel or other countries is “a good thing for France”.
Antisemitism has several faces, “the challenge is no longer only pure and hard negationism”. We are witnessing a competition of memory and victimhood on the subject of the Shoah, and speeches of radical hostility towards Israel are multiplying in an unabashed manner. Yonathan Arfi reminds us in his interview that “when Israel is criticised for what it is and not for what it does, Israel is treated exactly as antisemitism treats the Jews: as guilty by essence”.