Poll: One quarter of adults worldwide 'deeply infected' with anti-Semitism

Less than half of respondents in ADL global poll have heard of Holocaust; Palestinian Authority most anti-Semitic territory on earth.

Gravestone defaced with anti-Semitic spraypaint 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Gravestone defaced with anti-Semitic spraypaint 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Negative attitudes toward Jews are “persistent and pervasive around the world,” the Anti-Defamation League announced on Tuesday during a press conference for the release of the ADL Global 100 Index, a global survey of anti-Semitism.
After surveying over 50,000 people in 102 countries in what it termed the “most comprehensive assessment ever of anti-Semitic attitudes globally,” the ADL came to a number of surprising conclusions.
The First International Resources poll determined that 26 percent of respondents are “deeply infected” with anti-Semitic attitudes while only a little more than half of those polled have heard of the Holocaust. Two thirds of those asked stated that they have either not heard of the Nazi genocide or do not believe that accepted historical accounts are correct.
Those who responded positively to six or more questions out of a set of 11 questions based on common Jewish stereotypes were deemed anti-Semitic by the New York-based Jewish advocacy group. The ADL’s National Director Abraham Foxman told reporters at the press conference that they purposely set the bar high.
“We didn’t want to hype. We wanted to understate, rather than overstate, and to be careful that we’re only labeling those people who are really bad,” he said.
When the bar was lowered – answering “probably true” or higher to only five out of the 11 questions – the number of respondents “deeply infected” with anti-Semitism rose from 26% to 34%.
Over a quarter of the respondents, 28%, were marked as free from any negative attitudes toward Jews.
Of the people surveyed, 41% said that the assertion that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in” is probably true, making it the “most widely accepted stereotype in five out of the seven regions surveyed,” the ADL revealed.
Following that, 35% of respondents said they believe that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” making it the most prevalent stereotype in Eastern Europe.
Such beliefs, the ADL stated, are “fueled by conspiracy theories on the Internet, and in some countries it is still politically expedient to scapegoat and blame Jews for social, economic and political ills by accusing them of having ‘dual loyalties’ or even of being a foreign enemy in their midst.”
A quarter of those who have never met a Jew are anti-Semitic, while 70% of those labeled as anti-Semitic have stated that they have never met a member of the tribe.
Respondents severely overestimated the world Jewish population, with 30% pegging the Jewish people at between 1% to 10% of global population and a further 18% stating that Jews constitute more than a tenth of people currently alive.
By asking the same set of questions of people living around the world, the ADL was able to isolate specific trends by region, religion and ethnicity.
“For the first time, we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” Foxman said. “The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hot spots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially nonexistent.”
Ranking anti-Semitic sentiments by region, the ADL determined that the least bigoted country was Laos, with 0.2% of adults holding anti-Jewish views. The most anti-Semitic regions were found to be the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian anti-Semitism is “pervasive throughout society,” the ADL found, with 93% of respondents affirming anti-Jewish stereotypes.
“The level of anti-Semitism in some countries and regions, even those where there are no Jews, is in many instances shocking,” ADL National Chairman Barry Curtiss-Lusher declared. “We hope this unprecedented effort to measure and gauge anti-Semitic attitudes globally will serve as a wake-up call to governments, to international institutions and to people of conscience that anti-Semitism is not just a relic of history, but a current event.”
The highest concentration of anti-Semitic sentiment can be found in the Middle East and North Africa, with 74% of respondents agreeing with the negative stereotypes presented by the ADL.
The next most anti-Semitic region is Eastern Europe, with 34% of respondents agreeing with the negative stereotypes, followed by Western Europe (24%), sub-Saharan Africa (23%), Asia (22%), the Americas (19%) and Oceania (14%).
The most anti-Semitic country outside of the Middle East and North Africa was Greece, with a 69% anti-Semitism rate.
Greece’s government has been cracking down on the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, whose rapid rise has worried European Jewry.
The highest rates of anti-Semitism in Western and Eastern Europe were in France (37%) and Greece (69%), a finding that Liszt called “disturbing,” and Foxman estimated was partly a reflection of the economic and political instability.
“While it is startling to see how high the level of anti-Semitism is in the Middle East and North African countries, the fact of the matter is even aside from those countries. Close to a quarter of those polled in other parts of the world is infected with anti-Semitic attitudes,” Foxman said. “There is only a three-point difference when you take world attitudes toward Jews with the Middle East and North African countries, or consider the world without.”
The least anti-Semitic countries in the world are Thailand (13%), Tanzania (12%), Denmark (9%), the United States (9%), the United Kingdom (8%), Vietnam (6%), the Netherlands (5%), Sweden (4%), Philippines (3%) and Laos (0.2%).
Jeffrey Liszt, a partner at Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, told The Jerusalem Post that the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism or anti-Israel sentiments was difficult to tease out. In Scandinavian countries, for example, anti-Semitic attitudes are among the lowest in the world – 9% in Denmark, 15% in Norway and 4% in Sweden – but anti-Israel sentiments tend to run higher. Israel was viewed unfavorably by 36% of respondent in Denmark, 37% in Norway, and 33% in Sweden.
Foxman said it was difficult to tease out whether anti-Semitic attitudes were caused by the conflict with the Palestinians or whether the conflict was an “excuse” for such beliefs. “It is evident that the Middle East conflict matters with regard to anti-Semitism,” he said. “We believe anti-Israel attitudes impact on anti-Semitism, but we have no statistical data to confirm this.”
When asked whether the anti-Semitic attitudes could possibly be a factor of general anti-immigration or xenophobic feelings, Foxman agreed that “prejudice rarely stands alone.”
“People who are prejudiced don’t usually single out one group,” he said. “We [Jews] have historically always been a part of whatever anti-feelings [that] exist. The point is, the anti-Jewish quotient continues to be there.”
Only 13% of those in English-speaking countries harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, “far lower than the overall average,” the report stated. Countries with a protestant majority also have a lower anti-Semitism rate than other majority religious countries, which is an “encouraging” trend, the ADL believes.
When asked why this might be true, Foxman speculated that it’s less socially acceptable to express anti-Semitic attitudes in English-speaking countries.
Liszt pointed out that English-speaking countries tend to have larger Jewish populations.
Just under a quarter of Christians (24%) were found to be anti-Semitic, with Eastern Orthodox and Catholics more likely to harbor such views than their Protestant counterparts.
Christians in the Middle East are much more likely to be anti-Semitic, the report said.
Nearly half of Muslims are anti-Semitic, the survey found, although there are “substantially” lower levels of anti-Semitic beliefs among Muslims outside of the Middle East, with Asia at 37%; Western Europe at 29%; Eastern Europe at 20%; and sub-Saharan Africa at 18%.”
According to the report, Buddhists were the least anti-Semitic, with a rating of 17%.
“We were profoundly disappointed about the resilience of anti-Semitism in many countries where we had hoped to see lower numbers, particularly some in Eastern Europe that experienced the war and the Holocaust firsthand,” Foxman said. “On the other hand, there is a silver lining in countries such as Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden – all Protestant majority countries – where we found incredibly low levels of anti-Semitic beliefs. The Czech Republic stands out as well as being one of the lowest-ranked countries in Eastern Europe, with only 13% of the population manifesting anti-Semitic views. This is a testament to the high levels of tolerance and acceptance in Czech society.”
Last month, European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor asserted that “normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable” as long as the continent’s Jews continue to live in fear.
Citing a November study by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights that showed that almost a third of Jews in several European countries are mulling emigration, Kantor asserted that “Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe.”
A third of Jews polled by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency in 2012 stated they refrain from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear.
Just under a quarter of respondents (23%) said that they avoid attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues.