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Seventy years ago this summer, Allied troops closing in on Nazi Germany began to encounter tens of thousands of emaciated and weak concentration camp prisoners forced to march into Germany. Those involved who survived the War are now elderly. Did they convey the horrors of the treatment of Jews and teach religious toleration to generations to follow? No, in fact, anti-Semitism is running rampant and is now pervasive worldwide, per results from a new global survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League.
The survey, carried out by First International Resources, showed the one in four adults have deep anti-Semitic attitudes. It also showed that after 70 years, history classes and countless movies about it, half of those surveyed had ever heard of the Holocaust, in which approximately 6 million men, women and children who were Jewish were exterminated. Only 33 percent of respondents even believe the accuracy of historical descriptions from survivors and liberators.
The global research effort included more than 53,000 people from 102 countries that represented 88 percent of adults worldwide. Conducted in the respondents’ native languages, the survey asked questions to determine whether they believed 11 anti-Semitic stereotypes are probably true or false, about Jewish influence over markets and media, and their overall attitudes toward them. The survey then determined how many believed that at least six of the 11 stereotypes were probably true.
While anti-Semitism appears pervasive worldwide in the aggregate, per the Anti-Defamation League, there were huge regional differences as to which areas believed the stereotypes. The people of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) had the more pervasive anti-Jewish attitudes. In fact 74 percent in MENA believed more than half of the negative stereotypes were true. Conversely, 9 percent of American adults believed them.
In Eastern Europe, approximately 33 percent of adults believed the stereotypes, whereas only 25 percent did in Western Europe as well as sub-Saharan Africa. Laos, where only 0.2 percent of the adults expressed negative views, turned out to be the world’s least anti-Semitic country. On the flip side, the Palestinian territories on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, long contentious with Israel, were the most anti-Semitic at 93 percent.
Ironically, many with the anti-Semitic statements admitted never having met someone of Jewish faith. Of those surveyed, 74 percent reported never having met a Jew, yet one-fourth of that 74 percent expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.
One of the surprising findings in the survey is that non-Jews actually believe that are a lot more Jews in the world than actually exist. Almost 50 percent vastly overestimated the worldwide Semitic population.
According to the ADL, 30 percent of those who participated in the survey believe that Jews comprise somewhere between 1 to 10 percent of the global population. An additional 18 percent thought Jews are at least 10 percent of the population worldwide. Only 16 percent came close in their estimation that Jews make up less than 1 percent of people. (The ADL says the actual number is 0.19 percent worldwide.)
The global ADL survey follows 50 years of similar American polls, during which time progress has been made at reducing the negative attitudes within the U.S. About 30 percent of the American population expressed anti-Semitic attitudes in the 1960s. That number has dropped to 9 percent, based on the U.S.-specific results from the new worldwide survey.
When announcing the survey outcomes, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman noted that the data gathered gave them a true sense of how persistent and pervasive anti-Semitism is today in the world. He pointed out that it shows attitudes versus looking anecdotally at anti-Semitic incidents.
By Dyanne Weiss