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ADL Survey: More Than a Quarter of the World is Anti-Semitic

May 13, 2014 By:
Uriel Heilman, JTA
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Palestinian children play in a damaged building with a swastika and the Star of David painted on it in a Gaza refugee camp in 2005. Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images via JTA.

NEW YORK — A lot of people around the world hate the Jews.

That’s the main finding of the Anti-Defamation League’s largest-ever worldwide survey of anti-Semitic attitudes.

The survey, released Tuesday, found that 26 percent of those polled — representing approximately 1.1 billion adults worldwide — harbor deeply anti-Semitic views. More than 53,000 people were surveyed in 102 countries and territories covering approximately 86 percent of the world’s population.

“Our findings are sobering but, sadly, not surprising,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said at a news conference Tuesday morning at ADL’s national headquarters in New York. “The data clearly indicates that classic anti-Semitic canards defy national, cultural, religious and economic boundaries.”

Among the survey’s key findings:

• Some 70 percent of those considered anti-Semitic said they have never met a Jew. Overall, 74 percent of respondents said they had never met a Jew.
• Thirty-five percent of those surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust. Of those who had, roughly one-third said it is either a myth or greatly exaggerated.
• The most anti-Semitic region in the world is the Middle East and North Africa, with 74 percent harboring anti-Semitic views. Eastern Europe was second at 34 percent. The least anti-Semitic region was Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) at 14 percent.
• The three countries outside the Middle East with the highest rates of anti-Semitic attitudes were Greece, at 69 percent, Malaysia at 61 percent and Armenia at 58 percent.
• About 49 percent of Muslims worldwide harbor anti-Semitic views, compared to 24 percent of Christians.
• The West Bank and Gaza were the most anti-Semitic places surveyed, with 93 percent of respondents expressing anti-Semitic views. The Arab country with the lowest level of anti-Semitic views was Morocco, at 80 percent. Iran ranked as the least anti-Semitic country in the Middle East, at 56 percent.
• The least anti-Semitic country overall was Laos, where 0.2 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views. The Philippines, Sweden, the Netherlands and Vietnam all came in at 6 percent or lower.
• Approximately 9 percent of Americans and 14 percent of Canadians harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
• Thirty-four percent of respondents older than 65 were deemed anti-Semitic, compared to 25 percent of those younger than 65. Men polled were slightly more anti-Semitic than women.

“The ADL’s Global 100 index will serve as a baseline,” Foxman said. “For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world.”

The survey gauged anti-Semitism by asking whether respondents agreed with an index of 11 statements that the ADL believes suggest anti-Jewish bias: Jews talk too much about what happened to them during the Holocaust; Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in; Jews think they are better than other people; Jews have too much power in international financial markets; Jews have too much power in the business world; Jews have too much control over global affairs; people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave; Jews have too much control over the U.S. government; Jews have too much control over global media; Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars; Jews don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind.

Respondents who agreed that a majority of the statements are “probably true” were deemed anti-Semitic.

Over the years, the ADL has been criticized for overstating what qualifies as anti-Semitism, with critics suggesting that some of the statements used to measure bias actually are more indicative of admiration for Jews than anti-Jewish hostility.

Foxman addressed such criticism on Tuesday.

“We frequently get accused of seeing anti-Semitism everywhere, and we’re very conscious about the credibility,” he said. “We were cautious, we were conservative, to understate rather than overstate.”

The survey was overseen by First International Resources and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research. It included telephone and in-person surveys conducted in 96 languages between July 2013 and February 2014. At least 500 adults were interviewed in each of the countries surveyed. The margin of error is 4.4 percent in countries with 500 interviews and 3.2 percent in countries with 1,000 interviews. The study was funded by New York philanthropist Leonard Stern; the ADL declined to say how much it cost.

The survey also questioned respondents about their attitudes toward Israel. Outside the Middle East, Israel’s favorable rating was 37 percent, compared to 26 percent unfavorable. Within the Middle East, Israel’s unfavorable rating rose to 84 percent. The only other region where Israel’s unfavorable rating outweighed its favorable was Asia: 30 percent unfavorable, compared to 26 percent favorably.

Asked how many Jews they believe there are worldwide, more than half of the respondents significantly overestimated the number. Some 30 percent said Jews comprise between 1 and 10 percent of the world’s population, 18 percent said the figure was larger than 10 percent, and 9 percent said more than 20 percent of all people are Jewish. The actual figure is 0.19 percent of the world’s population, according to the ADL.

After the Palestinian-populated territories, the most anti-Semitic places were Iraq, where 92 percent harbor anti-Semitic views; Yemen at 88 percent; Algeria and Libya at 87 percent; Tunisia at 86 percent; Kuwait at 82 percent; and Bahrain and Jordan at 81 percent.

Israel was not included in the survey.

“It is very evident that the Middle East conflict matters with regard to anti-Semitism,” Foxman said. “It just is not clear whether the Middle East conflict is the cause of or the excuse for anti-Semitism. There is no statistical data at this moment to support causality.”

After Laos, anti-Semitism was lowest in the Philippines at 3 percent; Sweden at 4 percent; the Netherlands at 5 percent; Vietnam at 6 percent; the United Kingdom at 8 percent, the United States and Denmark at 9 percent; Tanzania at 12 percent; and Thailand at 13 percent.

In Western Europe, the most anti-Semitic countries were Greece (69 percent) and France (37 percent). In Eastern Europe, Poland (45 percent) and Bulgaria (44 percent) topped the list, and the Czech Republic was the least anti-Semitic, at 13 percent.

In the Americas, Panama (52 percent) and the Dominican Republic (41 percent) ranked as most anti-Semitic. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal was the most anti-Semitic, at 56 percent. The least were Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, all at between 16 and 12 percent.

The most commonly held stereotype among the ADL’s list of 11 statements was that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country — a view held by 41 percent of respondents. More than one-third agreed with the statements that Jews have too much power in the business world and in international financial markets, that Jews think they are better than other people and that Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.

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