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Ukraine More Antisemitic Than Russia: ADL Survey

Ukrainian antisemitism drops to 29% in 2023, potentially due to Jewish President Zelensky's popularity.

The latest installment of the antisemitism index “Global 100,” which the Anti-Defamation League released on May 31, ostensibly has good news for Ukrainian Jews.

Jew-hatred in Ukraine declined from a record 46% index score in 2019 to 29% in 2023, “potentially driven in part by the popularity of the Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose approval ratings have risen dramatically over the last few years in response to his defiance in the face of Russian military attacks,” per an ADL release.

“The dramatic improvement in antisemitic attitudes in Ukraine seems linked to the popularity of President Zelensky, a leader who is both proudly Jewish and public about his heritage,” stated Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of ADL. “While the survey findings do not directly address questions of causality, there’s no doubt that having a Jewish president who is being praised for his response to Russian aggression seems to have affected perceptions of Jews among ordinary Ukrainian citizens.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C) presents the State Medal to Ukrainian soldiers at the Donetsk Oblast in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 23, 2023. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But whether the drop in antisemitic views in Ukraine is “potentially driven” by, or there’s “no doubt” that it “seems” to be affected by its Jewish president, the ADL survey paints a picture in which Ukraine is more antisemitic than Russia almost across the board.

Ukraine’s level of antisemitic beliefs, 29%, is higher than Russia’s, 26%, per ADL data. And whereas 36% of Russian respondents say that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country where they live, 38% of Ukrainians agreed with that antisemitic trope. And, according to the ADL survey, 19% of Ukrainians agree that “the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen,” compared to 17% of Russians.

Although not as dramatic as Ukraine’s 17 percentage-point drop from 2019 to 2023, Russia too saw a drop in its index score in that period, from 31% to 26%. And Russia’s index score was lower than Ukraine’s every year in that span. Ukraine’s score was 38% in 2014 (Russia was 30%), 32% in 2015 (compared to 23% in Russia), 46% in 2019 (compared to 31% in Russia) and 29% in 2023 (Russia was 26%).

Russian Orthodox priests attend the Orthodox Easter service at a 17th century church on the outskirts of Moscow early on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

In Ukraine, 53% of respondents agreed with the country’s most common anti-Jewish stereotype — “Jews have too much power in the business world” — while a smaller number of Russians, 44%, agreed with that country’s most common antisemitic stereotype, “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”

Ukrainians were also likelier than Russians to say that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country in 2014 (44% to 36%), 2015 (40% to 48%), 2019 (47% to 39%) and 2023 (38% to 36%).

One exception was the 27% of Russians who had not heard about the Holocaust, compared to 18% of Ukrainians. But among those who were aware of the Holocaust, denial was more common among Ukrainians (19%) than Russians (17%).

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO & National Director, speaking at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The survey is based on responses from 6,569 European adults, conducted between Nov. 8, 2022, and Jan. 30, 2023. Of that number, 1,000 of the interviews were with Ukrainians and Russians.

An exception was made for Ukraine, due to the Russian invasion and millions of Ukrainians fleeing the country. Up to 25% of respondents considered “Ukrainian” did not live in Ukraine at the time, per the ADL. 

“Surveys were also conducted in both Ukrainian and Russian, with careful attention paid to the reported geographic origin of the respondent,” it added.

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

Edited by Sterling Creighton Beard and Jessi Rexroad Shull

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