The ADL just published a most significant survey of international antisemitism. Their finding? Over 1 billion people on the face of the Earth harbor antisemitic feelings. That’s about a quarter of our planet. How to get on the antisemite list? Agree with 6 of the following statements:
* Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/the countries they live in].
* Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
* Jews have too much control over global affairs.
* Jews think they are better than other people.
* Jews have too much control over the global media.
* Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.
* Jews have too much power in the business world.
* Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
* People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.
* Jews have too much control over the United States government.
* Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.
The details of the survey are on a fabulous website that displays and breaks it down. http://global100.adl.org/ . You’ll find, for example, that the worst antisemitism, by ADL’s definition, was measured in the Middle East and North Africa, from the West Bank and Gaza (93%) and Iraq (92%) to Saudi Arabia (74%) Turkey (69%) and Iran (56%). Laos has an infinitesimal antisemitic index of 0.2%. Of course Laos has no known history with the Jews and less than ten permanent Jewish residents. But the scarcity of Laotian Jews does not explain the number. In fact, the survey says countries with more than 10,000 Jews tend to hold fewer antisemitic views than those with no Jewish population whatsoever.
The survey reports that only 33% of those polled have both heard of the Holocaust and believe it has been accurately described by history. Ironically, the highest percentage of people who think Jews talk too much about the Holocaust are from nations deeply involved with the genocide: Lithuania (65%), Poland (62%), Hungary (61%) Germany and Austria (52%).
There’s a lot of data here to mull over – I know I’m still considering it all. But I have few preliminary impressions. First and I hope you don’t find it flippant, is to say that when I heard the results announced, I thought, “Only a billion people hate the Jews?” That thought comes from a son of a Holocaust survivor who was raised with the subliminal message that everybody hates us! That the majority of the world doesn’t hate Jews is a profoundly variant weltanschauung. I feel like paraphrasing Sally Fields Oscar speech from 1985: “You like us! You really like us!”
Second is to respond to the intense antisemitism of the West Bank and Gaza by saying, “Duh!” Of course the more Muslims, the more antipathy to Jews. And this antipathy is exacerbated in schools, the press, and the mosques.
Finally I wonder the purpose of this high level, high cost survey altogether. Is it Abe Foxman’s legacy after leading the ADL for 27 years and retiring next July, to say to the Jewish people, “See? I’ve warned you about antisemitism for decades and here’s the numbers to prove its capacious grip.” Is it a clarion call about international Holocaust awareness? It’s true the Jewish people say never again, but should it be surprising that 55% of Thais never heard of the Holocaust?
In the end it seems to me that we worry a lot about the opinions of non-Jews. What will they say about us? has been a consuming question of Diaspora Jews for centuries. American Jews under the age of 30 actually don’t ask that question nearly as much as it once was asked. To ask another centuries old question, is that good or bad for the Jews?
What do we do with this information?