Saturday, May 17, 2014

And not to be forgotten - the persistence of anti-Semitism

While we’re on the subject of prejudice, let us not forget anti-Semitism, a vintage prejudice that definitely has not gone away. According to the ADL Global 100, a study based on a recent poll undertaken on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League in 101 countries, the West Bank and Gaza, with a total population of 4.16 billion, 1.09 billion “harbor[] Anti-Semitic attitudes.” That’s a somewhat murky phrase, but closer examination makes it seem worse rather than better. Survey respondents were “considered to harbor anti-Semitic attitudes” if they felt that at least 6 of the following 11 statements were “probably true”:

1.  Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/the countries they live in – the latter phrase was used in countries where Jews made up no more than 0.1 % of the population]
2. Jews have too much power in international financial markets
3. Jews have too much control over global affairs
4. Jews think they are better than other people
5. Jews have too much control over the global media
6. Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars
7. Jews have too much power in the business world
8. Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind
9. People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave
10. Jews have too much control over the United States government
11. Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust

It seems from the ADL’s description that survey respondents were asked only about these 11 statements, and – without being a survey researcher – I can imagine that hearing this grim series of statements might actually have reinforced the respondents’ prejudiced feelings. So perhaps the results are somewhat overstated. But still it’s quite something to agree with at least 6 out of these 11, as the survey reports 1.09 billion people do (to be sure, with a statistical sampling error, reported as 0.97 % for the weighted global average, more for some of the individual countries).

If there are, as the Jewish Virtual Library website reports (for 2012), 13,746,100 Jews in the world, then it seems to be the case that for each Jew in existence there are about 79 people who hold a negative opinion of them. I wonder what proportion of those 1.09 billion anti-Semites have even met a Jew. It’s not surprising, given today’s world politics, that 74 % of those sampled in the Middle East and North Africa hold such views, but the statistics from the rest of the world also bear remembering:

            Eastern Europe:          34 %
            Western Europe:         24 %
   Sub-Saharan Africa:   23 %
   Asia:                            22 %
   The Americas:            19 %
   Oceania:                      14 %

Some things never change!

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