Global Anti-Semitism Poll Finds Shocking Rate of Holocaust Denial

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.