Antisemitic sentiment in Sweden down, study finds

A new study of antisemitism in Sweden has shown that anti-Jewish prejudices are decreasing in the country among the majority of the population, although prevalent among the Muslim community and those identifying with far-right Sweden Democrats Party.

The study was commissioned by the Living History Forum and conducted by the Novus Sweden Panel polling organization and based on responses from 3,507 individuals aged 18-79. 

The results were compared to a 2005 study conducted by Statistics Sweden for Brå and the Living History Forum. 

The new 2020 study asked interviewees numerous questions regarding attitudes towards Jews, and towards classic antisemitic canards. 

In response to the statement “Jews have too much influence in the world today,” 11% of interviewees agreed, compared to 15% in 2015.

In 2005, 17% agreed to some degree with the statement “The Jews control US foreign policy” but in the 2020 study this figure fell to 12%. 

And in response to the statement “The Jews have great influence over the world economy” 21% agreed in full or in part with the assertion in 2020, compared to 26% in 2005.

The canard that “Jews have a strong influence over the media” was also posed to interviewees, with 13% agreeing with the assertion in 2020, compared to 19% in 2005. 

Antisemitism related to the Holocaust was also investigated, and also appears to be on the decline. 

In 2005, 14% agreed in full or in part with the statement “The Jews use the Nazi extermination of the Jews (the Holocaust) for economic and political purposes,” while in 2020 that figure had fallen to 10%.

And in 2005, 17% agreed with the statement “The Jews believe they are the only ones who have suffered (in the past),” while in 2020 that proportion was 13%.

The study noted that antisemitic attitudes were more prevalent among respondents born outside of Sweden, in particular in the Middle East, saying this may reflect “the adoption of antisemitic attitudes and ideas found in their countries of birth.”

The study asserted that this phenomenon “goes some way in explaining the greater prevalence of antisemitic attitudes found among respondents with Muslim affiliation, because a significant proportion of people in this category have a migration background in the Middle East.”

The report also found that Swedes who support the far-right Sweden Democrats Party also demonstrate higher levels of antisemitic sentiment than the general population. 

“The present analysis also found a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes among respondents who sympathized with the Sweden Democrats, in line with what studies in other European countries have shown for antisemitic attitudes among sections of the electorate who sympathize with right-wing populist and nationalist parties,” the report said.

“According to the results of the present study, the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes and ideas in the Swedish population fell between 2005 and 2020,” it concluded. 

“The fact that support for antisemitic attitudes and ideas has weakened is positive. But it should be noted the results show that antisemitic beliefs live on.”


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