One in five say antisemitism is a problem in Ireland

One in five people believe antisemitism is a problem in the Republic, but they are divided over whether their views on Jews are influenced by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East (45% felt it was a factor; 43% didn’t).

Amid rising concerns about anti-Jewish sentiment across the EU, a survey by the European Commission found that half of Europeans consider antisemitism to be a problem in their country.

A majority of citizens in eight EU member states (Germany, France, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Austria) felt the issue was a problem.

The Eurobarometer survey shows 21% of Irish respondents felt antisemitism was either a very important or fairly important problem, the lowest level of any country in Western Europe.

Some 28,000 people across 28 member states, including 1,000 in the Republic, took part in the survey last December.

About 17% said they had friends or acquaintances who were Jewish. The EU average is 19%, but as high as 45% in Sweden, 36% in France, and 32% in the UK.

According to the 2016 census, the Jewish population of Ireland had increased by 29% since the previous census, in 2011. It recorded 2,557 Jews living in the Republic in 2016, of which more than half were in Dublin. Ireland’s Jewish population peaked in 1946, at 3,907, but declined steadily over subsequent decades.

There are three synagogues in Dublin and one in Belfast. The synagogue in Cork closed in 2016, due to falling attendances.

The latest increase is attributed to an influx of foreign nationals working for US multinationals. But only 14% of Irish people believe antisemitism has increased in the Republic over the past five years.

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