In case anyone had any doubts, the ADL’s latest survey on antisemitism has produced shocking results. The survey was massive by any standards:
The survey was conducted in more than 100 countries and territories, and 53,100 people were interviewed, representing 4 billion adults around the world.
Indeed, one of the many fascinating aspects of this poll is the positive side of the story, highlighted by countries where anti-Semitic attitudes are absent or relatively minor. We see that in several Asian countries, like Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines. We see lower numbers in several West European countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands. And, in general, English-speaking countries have significantly better attitudes than the world at large toward Jews.
These positive findings are important. They show how varied attitudes are and suggest the need for further investigation to determine what common factors bring people in some countries to have more positive attitudes toward Jews.
As to their methodology, the ADL says:
over the years questions have been raised about ADL’s methodology in assessing attitudes through similar polling. ADL polling is based on an index of anti-Semitism developed back in the 1960s by academics from the University of California, Berkeley. They looked at 11 classic stereotypes about Jews — statements about Jewish power and influence, Jewish loyalty and personal traits.
The index we used in the Global 100 is based on these 11 stereotypes. Our analysis rests on the idea that if an individual agrees with six or more of these stereotypes, he or she is deemed to have anti-Semitic attitudes. The strength of this methodology is its high bar: It does not rest on agreeing with any one statement. But agreeing to six or more of these age-old anti-Semitic assertions makes clear one’s biased attitude toward Jews.
Moreover, these 11 statements are not random. These are stereotypes that represent the main anti-Jewish canards through the millennia.
Fourth, there is the question of the relationship between attitudes toward Israel and attitudes toward Jews. It is evident that the Middle East conflict matters with regard to anti-Semitism. However, from our findings in the survey, it is not clear whether the Middle East conflict is the cause, or rather the excuse, for anti-Semitism. Either way, the high numbers of those who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes in the Middle East and North Africa are a challenge to the region — and the international community — going forward.
And here is the most politically-incorrect result of the survey:
When it comes to religious factors affecting anti-Semitic attitudes, Muslims have significantly higher anti-Semitic attitudes overall than do members of other religions. If, however, we only look at the countries outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the numbers for anti-Semitic attitudes for Muslims are still higher than those among Christians but not significantly so.
The top such anti-Semitism hotspot, the survey noted, was the West Bank and Gaza, where the ADL found that anti-Semitic attitudes topped 93%. The survey goes on to rank countries and territories from most to least anti-Semitic.
The south Asian country of Laos brings up the bottom, with only 0.2% of the adult population holding anti-Semitic beliefs.
Beyond the West Bank and Gaza, the survey found that in the Middle East and North Africa, 74% of those polled agreed with a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes in the index. In comparison, countries outside of the region have an average index score of 23%. The second most anti-Semitic region of the world is Eastern Europe, where some 34% of the population hold anti-Semitic beliefs.
“While it is startling to see how high the level of anti-Semitism is in the Middle East and North African countries, the fact of the matter is even aside from those countries, close to a quarter of those polled in other parts of the world is infected with anti-Semitic attitudes,” Foxman wrote, responding to the data before the press event.
“There is only a three-point difference when you take world attitudes toward Jews with the Middle East and North African countries, or consider the world without,” he added. The survey revealed that the Middle Eastern country with the least anti-Semitic inclinations was Iran, where some 56% percent of the adult population held anti-Semitic beliefs.
Unlike most of the world, however, anti-Semitism in the Middle East and North Africa tends to increase commensurate with the respondents’ education levels – the opposite of what is seen in Europe, Asia and the Americas.