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ADL Global Survey Finds 1 in 4 Adults Are Anti-Semitic

ADL anti-semitism study

A first-of-its-kind study of global attitudes toward Jews has revealed that one in four adults, or more than one billion people, harbor anti-Semitic views.

The study, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a US-based international organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, found that one in four adults worldwide are “deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes.”

ADL surveyed more than 53,000 adults in 102 nations, representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s population, in an unprecedented effort to gauge how the world views Jews.

The study scored participants on how they answered questions about negative stereotypes about Jews. These included the notion that Jews have too much power over international financial markets, the media and the US government, and that Jews “don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind.” Respondents were also asked if they believe that “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars” and if they thought “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in.”

All told, the participants were asked whether they believe 11 different negative stereotypes about Jews. The researchers then determined what percentage of a nation’s adults believed at least six of the 11 stereotypes to be true. In addition to finding that one in four adults harbor anti-Semitic views, the survey found that:

  • Only 54 percent of respondents had heard of the Holocaust, with two-thirds either unaware of the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews or not believing historical accounts to be accurate.
  • The most widely-believed anti-Semitic stereotype is that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in, with 41 percent of worldwide respondents saying they believed this to be true.
  • Fully 35 percent of respondents said they agreed that “Jews have too much power in the business world.”

The study found that Middle East and North African countries had the highest percentage of people with anti-Semitic beliefs. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) in this region believed a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes. More than a third (34 percent) of Eastern European respondents and nearly a quarter (24 percent) in Western Europe agreed with a majority of the 11 stereotypes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 23 percent did. Some 22 percent of Asians, 19 percent of people in North and South America, and 14 percent in Oceania harbored anti-Semitic views.

The five nations with the highest and lowest percentage of survey respondents expressing anti-Semitic beliefs are:

Most anti-Semitic:

  • Occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza: 93 percent
  • Iraq: 92 percent
  • Yemen: 88 percent
  • Algeria: 87 percent
  • Libya: 87 percent

Least anti-Semitic:

  • Laos: 0.2 percent
  • Philippines: 3 percent
  • Sweden: 4 percent
  • Netherlands: 5 percent
  • Vietnam: 6 percent

Eight percent of Britons, 9 percent of Americans and 14 percent of Canadians expressed agreement with a majority of the 11 anti-Semitic stereotypes covered in the survey.

There are numerous explanations for the high percentage of anti-Semitism among people in the Middle East and North Africa. Historical inter-religious animosity and anger at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, which many critics (including some Jews) call ethnic cleansing, is partly to blame. So are education systems and media in places like Palestine and Saudi Arabia that teach hatred of Jews to even children.

Recently, reports of children’s television programming in Palestine in which a young girl vows to “shoot the Jews” underscored the severity of the problem.

While much of Palestinians’ anti-Semitism can be explained through the prism of more than 60 years of occupation and harsh treatment at the hands of Israeli Jews, the same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia, where textbooks used in the super-strict Islamic nation’s schools teach that the eradication of the Jewish people is imperative.

“The level of anti-Semitism in some countries and regions, even those where there are no Jews, is in many instances shocking,” said ADL national chair 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.”

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