The New York Times certainly got my attention with this headline: “26 Percent of World’s Adults Are Anti-Semitic, Survey Finds.”
The survey in question was a global survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, and designed to probe the level and intensity of anti-semitism. The survey also found that half the respondents had never heard of the Holocaust. Now, that finding doesn’t necessarily mean the people are anti-semitic. It could to some extent just indicate ignorance. I’d consider it more anti-semitic if someone had indeed heard of the Holocaust, but denied that it actually happened or tried to argue that it was overblown.
Interestingly, the highest levels of anti-semitism are in the Middle East and North Africa. But before jumping to the list of the most anti-semitic countries, let’s take a look at the least anti-semitic countries, as measured by the percentages of adults holding anti-semitic views:
United States 9%
United Kingdom 8%
A couple of interesting observations. Some of these countries have almost no Jewish population, and few Jewish visitors, so one might suggest that lack of direct exposure correlates with the absence of anti-semitism. That isn’t really the case, however, as we will see when we reach the list of the worst offenders. Many of those virulently anti-semitic countries have no Jewish population or visitors, either. The other observation is that even in the good countries, there are significant percentages of respondents who believe that Jews put loyalty to Israel ahead of loyalty to their own country:
The dual-loyalty claim is anti-semitic, but is also a form of prejudice directed against other minorities. For example, dual loyalty claims were common smears during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.
Now let’s look at the worst offenders. Greece is apparently the most anti-semitic country in Europe, at 69%, but the Greeks are amateurs when compared to the Arab/Moslem world:
Morocco/Qatar/UAE tied for 10th most anti-semitic, at 80%
And the most anti-semitic (cue drum roll, please)....
West Bank/Gaza 93%
Now I know that West Bank/Gaza isn’t actually a country, but if a Palestinian state is ever formed, that’s what it consist of.
So what is the takeaway from this survey? Well, as it applies to the prospects for peace between Israel, on the one hand, and the Palestinians and other Arab countries, on the other hand, it is both relevant and bleak. It is often argued that all Israel has to do is end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and there will be peace. These extreme levels of anti-semitism, however, raise the distinct possibility that the Arab/Moslem world will never accept Israel, because it is the Jewish national homeland. Indeed, one must ask whether this conflict can ever end, as long as one side harbors such extreme prejudice and hatred towards the majority population of the other side.