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The Schmooze

Survey: One in Three Spaniards Is Anti-Semitic

Look at the bright side… Muslims here are hated even more than Jews!

That’s the line Spanish government officials are using to mitigate the damage from a new survey suggesting one-third of Spaniards harbor anti-Semitic sentiments.

According to AFP, The “Study on anti-Semitism in Spain” revealed 34.6 percent of Spaniards had an “unfavourable opinion” of Jews compared to 48 percent who said they had a “favourable opinion.” Considering that the poll was initiated by two government institutions, it could charitably be labeled a backfire; its sponsors were Casa Sefarad-Israel, which was founded by the Spanish government to promote closer ties between Spain and Israel, and the opinion-research think-tank DYM Institute.

The findings were presented at a news conference by Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and David Ojeda, head of Casa-Sefarad Israel, AFP reported. Moratinos claimed the poll shows that “Spanish public opinion is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Israeli”. But he said “anti-Semitic prejudices are still present in our society to a totally unacceptable degree” and this is “particularly worrying given the limited size of the Jewish community in Spain.”

The survey was conducted in April, before the Israel Navy’s confrontation at the end of May with the Gaza-bound flotilla; had the poll followed that incident, Moratinos encouragingly speculated that “the results for Israel and the Jews would have been more negative.”

As Haaretz noted in its report on the poll, anti-Semitic sentiment exists in Spain “despite the absence of a sizable Jewish community in the country since the Spanish Inquisition at the end of the 15th century.” Jews total about 0.1% of Spain’s total population of 40 million. “Breaking News from the 15th Century,” blared the Atlantic’s blog post on the survey.

“Senior Spanish government officials sought to soften the impact of the poll results, noting that 54 percent of respondents hold negative views toward Muslims,” Haaretz noted. About 1.5 million Muslims live in Spain.

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