Saturday, May 17, 2014

ADL’s globe-spanning study of anti-Semitism reveals that over 750 million people’s hatred isn’t about the Jews at all

The ADL’s massive Global 100 survey of worldwide anti-Semitic attitudes, published Tuesday, offers some sobering statistics. Some 1.1 billion adults harbor anti-Semitic views. In the Middle East, 74 percent of adults agreed with a majority of the survey’s 11 anti-Semitic propositions, including that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” and that “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.”
The complexities uncovered by the study are fascinating and important. They include, for example, the jarring discovery that 52% of Germans and Austrians believe Jews talk too much about the Holocaust — but also that young Germans and Austrians are shedding their parents’ anti-Semitic attitudes. The number of Germans holding such views dropped steeply from 33% among those over 50 to 15% among those under 34, and among Austrians from 41% to 12%. The German-speaking world is simultaneously growing tired of hearing about the Holocaust and more accepting of Jews.        
We find similar complexity in the discovery that Britain, a hub of global efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, is nevertheless one of the least anti-Semitic countries in the world, while Greece, Israel’s newfound regional ally, is one of the most.
And while the Internet has toppled tyrants and created new opportunities for openness and development in the Muslim world, Internet use is also a significant factor in a Muslim becoming anti-Semitic. The prevalence of anti-Semitic views grew by some 20 percentage points among Muslims who get their news primarily online compared to those who get their news from television, newspapers or even religious leaders, the study found.
These are valuable insights, and the survey offers many others.
More than 2,500 people, many of them non-Jews, participate in a march to mark 70 years since the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki (Michael Thaidigsmann/ WJC via JTA) More than 2,500 people, many of them non-Jews, participate in a march to mark 70 years since the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki (Michael Thaidigsmann/ WJC via JTA)
Yet the study shines not in the details, but in its sweeping international perspective. In interviewing over 53,000 people in 93 languages across 102 countries and regions, the survey pieces together a global picture of the web of stereotypes and hatreds through which a significant swath of humanity views the Jews. It enables us to go beyond the narrow confines of each nation’s politics and prejudices and think more deeply about the phenomenon and the essential question that lies at its root: Why do they hate us?
The question is put into sharp relief by the finding that fully 27% of people who have never met a Jew nevertheless harbor strong prejudices against him. Or, indeed, that a huge majority, 77%, of those who hate Jews have never met one. Even more starkly, the survey found an inverse relationship between the number of Jews in a country and the spread of anti-Semitic attitudes there. As a general rule, the fewer the Jews in a particular country, the more numerous the anti-Semites.
This should not surprise us. We already understood that anti-Semitism is skyrocketing in precisely those parts of the world where Jews fled from or perished in the last century, primarily the Middle East and Eastern Europe. But by giving numbers to these beliefs, the study allows us to think more carefully about the sources of the phenomenon.
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