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Antisemitism Study: German teens hold more anti-semitic views

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Gesehen en in Berlin-Weißensee 2007. ; Foto: H. Kulick

A new German study suggests a large number of the European nations‘ teenagers hold anti-semitic views. Twenty percent of German teens surveyed disagreed with this statement: „Jews living in Germany should have the same rights in all respects as other Germans.“ More than half believed that Jews had too much influence on world events, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported. A significant percentage of surveyed teens felt that Jews probably deserved their treatment during the Third Reich.  Many cited school textbooks that said the Nazis hadpersecuted Jews because they were suspected of controlling financial markets, according to the JTA.

Penn State Hillel director Aaron Kaufman said he hoped similar sentiments were not prevalent in the United States. „I’d like to think the United States does not come down on the same line as the German population in the study,“ Kaufman said.  „The fact that there are still such common stereotypes held around the world means that we have a lot of work and education still to do,“ he said.  An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study released earlier this month found that 15 percent of Americans hold beliefs about Jews that are „unquestionably anti-Semitic,“ according to an ADL press release. Barbara Schäuble and Albert Scherr, sociologists with the Berlin-based Amadeu-Antonio Stiftung, an advocacy group that works to combat racism and xenophobia, compiled the study’s results by conducting interviews with 20 groups of teens aged 13 to 19.

Their findings, titled „I have nothing against Jews, but…“ were presented earlier this month as part of Germany’s „Action Weeks Against Anti-Semitism.“ Penn State history professor Jens-Uwe Guettel, who teaches HIST 143 (Fascism & Nazism), said „the most interesting and disturbing finding“ was the fact that Jewish stereotypes and anti-Semitic epithets were used even among groups that did not identify themselves as being anti-Semitic.

Berit Lusebrink, the Amadeu-Antonio project coordinator, said the findings were not specific to Germany. „They use a lot of stereotypes without knowing it,“ she said.  „It’s the same in the other European countries.“ Guettel said education was key in changing these attitudes but stressed a discreet approach. „It’s important that people speak out against simplified notions — anti-Semitic, anti-American, anti-anything, really,“ he said. If educators are „too heavy-handed,“ they might incite further anti-Semitism „among high school students who don’t want to be indoctrinated or told a way to think,“ he added. Kaufman said Jews must fight against all types of prejudice.

„We need to confront stereotypes as Jews, about Jews, but also about other minority populations,“ he added. Kathrin Luksch, 18, lives in Korschenbroich, a German town 20 kilometers outside of Düsseldorf. She said Anti-Semitism in Germany is related to the nation’s unemployment crisis, with poorer Germans living in the east more likely to resent Jews. „The teenagers I know are not anti-Semitic, like none of them. Among the lower class, it would probably be higher,“ Luksch said.  „They think that not only Jews but also all foreigners take their jobs,“ she said. „If they got better jobs or just better education, that would probably help them realize why it’s wrong to think what they think.“

By Alex Weisler,  for the Daily Collegian-online at Penn State

Dieser Beitrag ist ursprünglich auf dem Portal „Mut gegen rechte Gewalt“ erschienen (2002-2022).

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