A Guardian article by Kim Willsher about a recent poll of French people who reject mask-wearing (French ‘anti-maskers’ most likely to be educated women in 50s, says study, Sept. 7) included the following:
Asked a series of questions about popular conspiracy theories, 90% of anti-maskers said the health ministry was in league with ”big pharma” to hide the poisonous effect of vaccines, 52% thought Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, had been assassinated, 56% signed up to the far-right conspiracy “replacement” theory and 57% believed there was a worldwide Zionist plot.
The fact that ‘anti-maskers’ would be more likely to accept an antisemitic conspiracy theory certainly seems intuitive, in that opposition to wearing masks is typically motivated by conspiratorial thinking. However, the correlation between anti-maskers and antisemitic conspiracy theories turns out to quite murky in light of a more general poll of French citizens conducted in 2018.
That survey, by the Ifop polling company, showed that 53% of all French people believe Zionism is a Jewish conspiracy designed to manipulate Western societies to benefit world Jewry – a number that’s statistically in line with that of the anti-maskers.
The fact that a majority of French people embrace an antisemitic conspiracy theory – as well as the fact that Jews, who represent less than 1% of the population, are victims of more than 50% of all French hate crimes – suggests that polls showing most French citizens have positive feelings towards Jews are misleading.
As we saw in the Labour antisemitism scandal, and the existential fears it elicited in British Jews, warm feelings towards Jews in the abstract isn’t nearly as important as attitudes towards the values and defining characteristics of most actual Jews.
As Zionism for the overwhelming majority of Jews is intrinsically wedded to their Jewish identity, and the statistical correlation between hostility to Zionism and hostility to Jews is strong, the moral and political difference between the statements “Jews are our misfortune” and “Zionism is our misfortune” is essentially meaningless.