The right questions for a global poll on anti-Semitism

Any student of the media of the Middle East knows just how it is often hateful and violently anti-Semitic.

May 19, 2014 23:01
2 minute read.
A rally outside the former US embassy in Tehran.

Anti-Zionism rally in Iran 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Caren Firouz )

The ADL survey on global anti-Semitism did not ask the right questions. It may be disturbing that many non-Jews believe Jews have undue influence in the media, or constitute a far larger portion of global population than they in fact do, but these matters are not the ones should be of primary concern.

The survey should have asked the hard questions: 1) Do you hate the Jewish people? 2) Do you believe it right and necessary to destroy the State of Israel? 3) Do you believe it is right to persecute Jews and drive them out of your country? 4) Do you believe it is right to kill Jews and eliminate them completely? 5) Would you yourself be happy to take violent action against Jews if you knew you would suffer no punishment or penalty for it? WHAT I am saying is that there is a difference between prejudice and true destructive hatred of the kind displayed by vicious anti-Semites historically.

The truly shocking result would be if one found that a considerable percentage of the world’s population, especially the population of the Middle East, advocate violent destructive action against Jews in general and the Jews of Israel in particular.

There is another element that disturbs about the ADL survey. It seems to me that behind it is a certain kind of naïve super- liberal expectation that Jews and every other people should be regarded as if they had no distinguishing characteristics and identity. Would it be for instance anti-Semitic to assert that Jews have a disproportionate place in the general culture of the United States, that larger proportions of individual Jews have important places in the academic, scientific, literary worlds? It seems to me that the survey does not distinguish between the role of Jews as individuals, and Jews as part of a communal or collective identity acting for some kind of overall Jewish interest. The truth is of course that disproportionate individual Jewish representation in, for instance the American broadcast media, does not lead to bias in favor of Israel, but often rather to the opposite.

In any case the global survey does not to my mind focus on the truly dangerous kind of anti-Semitism and instead focuses on social attitudes.

My own sense is that if the real questions were asked the results would be far more horrifying than those given in the present survey. For any student of the media of the Middle East knows just how it is often hateful and violently anti-Semitic.

The writer is the author of Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Scholar and General (Urim Publications).

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