Anti-Semitic stereotypes are so pervasive that fully 26 percent of adults surveyed worldwide — representing an estimated 1.09 billion adults — are “deeply infected,” even though 70 percent have never met a Jew.
That was the finding of the Global 100 Index released this week by the Anti-Defamation League. It is said to be the first such comprehensive poll of its kind about anti-Semitism worldwide.
“For the first time, we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “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 hotspots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially non-existent.”
As might be expected, more adults living in the West Bank and Gaza — some 93 percent — hold anti-Semitic attitudes, more than any other place in the world. Throughout the Middle East and North African countries, 74 percent of those polled agreed with the majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes asked them. In countries outside of this region, the average index score was 23 percent.
Adults with the fewest anti-Semitic beliefs live in Laos — just .2 percent accepted those stereotypes.
“While it is startling to see how high the level of anti-Semitism is in the Middle East and North African countries,” said Foxman, “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.”
Although the survey concretized the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism worldwide, the fact that such views are so extensively held is not surprising. At the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum last evening, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the recently retired chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, said the resurgence of anti-Semitism — especially in Europe — places the very future of the Jewish communities there in doubt.
He said anti-Semitism is bad for other minorities as well and argued that Jews must work with other minorities to stop it because “the victim cannot stop the crime by himself.”
One of the most startling findings is that just one generation after the Holocaust, two-thirds of adults surveyed said they had either never heard of the Holocaust (46 percent) or do not believe historical accounts to be accurate.
Foxman said the fact that only 54 percent of those polled had heard of the Holocaust was a “disturbingly low number.” He said the numbers were “far better in Western Europe, where 94 percent of those polled were aware of the history.
“At the same time, the results confirm a troubling gap between older adults who know their history and younger men and women who, more than 70 years after the events of World War II, are more likely to have never heard of or learned about what happened to the 6 million Jews who perished.”
To gauge whether a person holds anti-Semitic views, the survey asked respondents 11 stereotypes about Jews. If they answered “probably true” to at least six of them, they were considered to hold anti-Semitic views. The most widely accepted stereotype: Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country in which they live. Fully 41 percent of those surveyed said it is “probably true.” It was the most widely accepted stereotype in five out of the seven regions surveyed.
The second most accepted stereotype: Jews hold too much power in the business world. Some 35 percent of respondents said it is “probably true.” That view is most prevalent in Eastern Europe.
A total of 53,100 adults were surveyed — a random sample representing 88 percent of the world’s total adult population — in 102 countries from last July through February. The poll was conducted by First International Resources.
“The level of anti-Semitism in some countries and regions, even those where there are no Jews, is in many instances shocking,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL’s national chair. “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 survey found that of the 74 percent of those who said they had never met a Jew, 25 percent harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
And although Jews comprise just 0.19 percent of the world’s population, 30 percent of those surveyed said they believed Jews comprised between 1 to 10 percent of the world’s population. Another 18 percent guessed they made up more than 10 percent. Only 16 percent accurately said Jews represent less than 1 percent of the world’s population.