A lot of people around the world harbor very negative feelings about Jews.
That’s the main finding of the Anti-Defamation League’s largest-ever worldwide survey of anti-Semitic attitudes.
The ADL Global 100 Index, released May 13, found that 26 percent of those polled — representing 1.1 billion adults worldwide — harbor deeply anti-Semitic views. The survey constitutes the most comprehensive assessment ever of anti-Semitic attitudes globally: More than 53,000 people were surveyed in 102 countries and territories covering approximately 86 percent of the world’s adult population.
“Our findings are sobering but, sadly, not surprising,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said at a news conference May 13 at the group’s headquarters in New York. “The data clearly indicates that classic anti-Semitic canards defy national, cultural, religious and economic boundaries.”
Among the survey’s key findings:
• Some 70 percent of those considered anti-Semitic said they have never met a Jew. Overall, 74 percent of respondents said they had never met a Jew.
• Thirty-five percent of those surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust. Of those who had, roughly one-third said it is either a myth or greatly exaggerated.
• The most anti-Semitic region in the world is the Middle East and North Africa, with 74 percent harboring anti-Semitic views. Eastern Europe was second at 34 percent. The least anti-Semitic region was Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) at 14 percent.
• The three countries outside the Middle East with the highest rates of anti-Semitic attitudes were Greece, at 69 percent, Malaysia at 61 percent and Armenia at 58 percent.
• About 49 percent of Muslims worldwide harbor anti-Semitic views, compared with 24 percent of Christians.
• The West Bank and Gaza were the most anti-Semitic places surveyed, with 93 percent of respondents expressing anti-Semitic views. The Arab country with the lowest level of anti-Semitic views was Morocco, at 80 percent. Iran ranked as the least anti-Semitic country in the Middle East, at 56 percent.
• The least anti-Semitic country overall was Laos, where 0.2 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views. The Philippines, Sweden, the Netherlands and Vietnam all came in at 6 percent or lower.
• Approximately 9 percent of Americans and 14 percent of Canadians harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
• Thirty-four percent of respondents older than 65 were deemed anti-Semitic, compared with 25 percent of those younger than 65. Men polled were slightly more anti-Semitic than women.
“The ADL’s Global 100 index will serve as a baseline,” Foxman said. “For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world.”
The survey gauged anti-Semitism by asking whether respondents agreed with an index of 11 statements that the ADL believes suggest anti-Jewish bias: Jews talk too much about what happened to them during the Holocaust; Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in; Jews think they are better than other people; Jews have too much power in international financial markets; Jews have too much power in the business world; Jews have too much control over global affairs; people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave; Jews have too much control over the U.S. government; Jews have too much control over global media; Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars; Jews don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind.
Respondents who agreed that a majority of the statements are “probably true” were deemed anti-Semitic.
The most commonly held stereotype among those on the list was that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country, a view held by 41 percent of respondents. More than one-third agreed with the statements that Jews have too much power in the business world and in international financial markets, that Jews think they are better than other people and that Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
Over the years, the ADL has been criticized for overstating what qualifies as anti-Semitism, with critics suggesting that some of the statements used to measure bias actually are more indicative of admiration for Jews than anti-Jewish hostility.
The survey also questioned respondents about their attitudes toward Israel. Outside the Middle East, Israel’s favorable rating was 37 percent, compared with 26 percent unfavorable. Within the Middle East, Israel’s unfavorable rating rose to 84 percent. The only other region where Israel’s unfavorable rating outweighed its favorable was Asia: 30 percent unfavorable, compared with 26 percent favorably.
“It is very evident that the Middle East conflict matters with regard to anti-Semitism,” Foxman said. “It just is not clear whether the Middle East conflict is the cause of or the excuse for anti-Semitism.”
Asked how many Jews they believe there are worldwide, more than half the respondents significantly overestimated the number. Some 30 percent said Jews comprise between 1 and 10 percent of the world’s population, 18 percent said the figure was larger than 10 percent, and 9 percent said more than 20 percent of all people are Jewish. The actual figure is 0.19 percent of the world’s population, according to the ADL.
The survey was overseen by First International Resources and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research. It included telephone and in-person surveys conducted in 96 languages between July 2013 and February 2014. At least 500 adults were interviewed in each of the countries surveyed. Israel was not included in the survey.
The complete survey is available at http://global100.adl.org.