The Anti-Defamation League released a sobering worldwide study of anti-Semitic attitudes today that found only 54 percent of people around the globe have heard of the Holocaust and nearly a third believe the World War II systematic slaughter is a myth or overblown.
Unprecedented in its size and scope, the ADL Global 100 survey gathered information in 102 countries and territories through 53,000 interviews.
“We are here to try to measure the level of anti-Semitism to go beyond the anecdote,” ADL president Abe Foxman said at a press conference releasing the study. “…Our findings are sobering but, sadly, not surprising.”
Worldwide, anti-Semitic attitudes were found in 26 percent of those polled.
Respondents were asked their feelings about Jewish stereotypes: Jews are more loyal to Israel than their country of residency, have too much power in international financial markets, have too much control over global affairs, think they are better than other people, have too much control over the global media, are responsible for most of the world’s wars, have too much power in the business world, don’t care what happens to anyone but Jews, talk too much about happened to them in the Holocaust, and have too much control over the United States government. They were also asked if “people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.”
Answering “probably true” to six of the 11 statements was considered an anti-Semitic attitude in the survey. Twenty-eight percent of those polled worldwide said none of the stereotypes are true.
Foxman said the survey didn’t directly ask people “are you anti-Semitic” because “anti-Semitism can mean different things in different places” — and “we also find that bigots don’t believe they are bigots.”
He added that, in his opinion, if a person answers three of those questions in the affirmative, “he has views against Jews.” The threshold used to be five questions, but Foxman stressed they want to “make sure we’re labeling bad someone who is really bad.”
If the threshold was five questions, the number of people harboring anti-Semitic attitudes worldwide would go up to 34 percent — more than a third of the adult population.
The number in the U.S. was comparatively low at 9 percent. Crossing the border into Mexico hiked the number up to 24 percent, with numbers consistently in the 30 percent or higher range across Latin America. Brazil was the lowest in Central and South America with 16 percent, while Panama was the highest with 52 percent.
Argentina, site of the 1994 Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires, scored 24 percent.
In sub-Saharan Africa, anti-Semitic attitudes ranged from a high of 53 percent in Senegal to a low of 12 percent in Tanzania. Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda were also in the teens, with Kenya jumping to 35 percent and South Africa at 38 percent.
North Africa is a very different picture, with a high of 87 percent in Algeria and Libya and a low of 75 percent in Egypt.
Crossing over into the Middle East, 93 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza rated as anti-Semitic, with 92 percent in Iraq. The lowest countries in the region were Oman at 76 percent, Saudi Arabia at 74 percent, and Iran with 56 percent.
Foxman said region turned out to be a greater factor than religion in determining anti-Semitic attitudes — except when measuring the rate of Muslim feelings about Jews.
Muslims, Foxman said, have “significantly higher anti-Semitic attitudes than other religions” with the highest average index score of 49 percent — compared to a 24 percent average for Christians. The lowest rate of anti-Semitism was found in Buddhists at 17 percent.
The shocking statistic in the survey of Europe was in Greece, where 69 percent harbored anti-Semitic attitudes. Foxman said that the prime minister of Greece spoke with him on the phone before the press conference and invited ADL to the country for a meeting. Greece is expected to elect its first neo-Nazi representative to the European parliament on May 25 despite attempts to keep Golden Dawn off the ballot.
The ADL leader added that he hoped the survey could take countries like Greece and inspire new initiatives to combat “these pernicious attitudes.”
The anti-Semitism rating is only 8 percent in the United Kingdom, but jumps to 37 percent across the English Channel in France. Scandinavian countries were low, with just 4 percent in Sweden. Anti-Semitic attitudes were more prevalent in Eastern Europe, with most countries scoring into the 30s or higher — 45 percent in Poland, for example — except for a much lower 13 percent in the Czech Republic.
Numbers varied widely across Asia from 53 percent in South Korea to just 0.2 percent in Laos. The Philippines were just 3 percent, but 48 percent in Indonesia. And neighbors Malaysia and Singapore scored 61 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents worldwide said they had never met a Jewish person. And18 percent of those surveyed believe that Jews number over 700 million across the globe — the actually population is around 13.7 million. Those who inflated the population of Jews were more likely to have negative opinions of Jews.
Anti-Semitism rates were fairly steady across age groups — older people tended to have more anti-Semitic attitudes, but younger people were more prone to Holocaust denial – as well as in very highly developed countries versus lesser developed countries.
Younger people are less aware of the Holocaust — just 48 percent for those under age 35. Out of all those polled worldwide, just a third have heard about the Holocaust and believe it’s accurately described in historical record. In the Middle East and North Africa, 63 percent who have heard of the Holocaust believe it is a myth or the tragedy has been greatly exaggerated.
The surveyed statements that polled highest in the Americas were about Jews being more loyal to Israel (38 percent) and Jews talking too much about the Holocaust (36 percent).
“The level of anti-Semitism in some countries and regions, even those where there are no Jews, is in many instances shocking,” said ADL chairman Barry Curtiss-Lusher. “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.”