ANTI-SEMITISM

Anti-Semitism: The poison that won’t go away

 

fjghitis@gmail.com

Anti-Semitism — that toxic delusion that has created so much hatred, violence, heartache over the centuries — refuses to die. That pernicious view of Jews as all-powerful, untrustworthy and a cause of whatever ails society, sounds laughable when you hear the manufactured conspiracies and the phony facts. But it has proven deadly for many centuries.

A new global survey by the Anti-Defamation League shows how it has taken root and spread deeply in some regions, while holding on stubbornly in other places where it has done the most damage throughout history.

The bigotry and the stereotypes are so insidious, that of the 26 percent of people surveyed who believe most anti-Semitic stereotypes, 70 percent have never even met a Jewish person.

Perhaps the most stunning revelation is the sheer depth of anti-Semitism — not just anti-Israel feelings — in the Arab Middle East; more on that in a moment.

The ADL survey interviewed more than 53,000 people in 102 countries, composing a picture that covers almost 90 percent of the world. Interviewers presented respondents with a series of statements, 11 in all, reflecting traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes, ideas such as “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars,” or “Jews have too much control over global affairs.”

In the United States, 9 percent of those asked agreed with the majority of the stereotypes, in Canada 14 percent did. Researchers say they found worldwide 26 percent of people are “deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes.”

It’s no surprise that in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that is mostly Muslim, mostly Arab, attitudes towards Jews are less than warm. But the scores were almost off the chart. Two of every three people there agree Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars. Only about one in three have ever heard of the Holocaust, and 63 percent of those who have say it is a lie or an exaggeration.

The deepest anti-Semitism is found in the West Bank and Gaza, where more than 90 percent of the people agreed with most of the anti-Semitic statements.

Clearly, these views have an impact on prospects for peace.

Researchers asked about attitudes toward Israel separately from attitudes towards Jews. In MENA, 84 percent had negative views of Israel and 67 percent had negative views of Jews. Even the more moderate, progressive MENA states, Tunisia (86 percent), Morocco (80 percent), had extremely high percentages agreeing with the anti-Semitic statements. The survey reconfirmed that in Egypt (75 percent) and Jordan (81 percent) the two Arab countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, popular sentiment toward Israel and the Jews remains deeply negative.

In Europe, the country with the highest percentage agreeing with most of the stereotypes was Greece, at 69 percent. The best scores came from Sweden (4 percent), the Netherlands (5 percent) the United Kingdom (8 percent). France came in with the worst score in Western Europe (excluding Greece) with 37 percent of the French agreeing with the Jewish stereotypes. Eastern Europe remains far more anti-Jewish.

In Latin America, Panama had a surprisingly high number — 52 percent -- agreeing with a majority of the stereotypes. Colombia had 41 percent, Mexico 24 percent, Brazil 16 percent.

A fundamental tenet of anti-Semitism is the belief that Jews are enormously powerful. Many of those who believe in those sinister powers would be surprised to know how few Jews actually exist. About one-third of those surveyed believe Jews account for 10 percent of the world’s population. Almost half say 1 percent of the world. They are all wrong, of course. Jews make up less than one-fifth of 1 percent of the world’s population. There are about 14 million Jews, approximately the same number as the population of Los Angeles, or Paris, or Rio de Janeiro.

Almost everywhere, education helped dissipate anti-Semitism. The more knowledgeable and educated those interviewed, the less anti-Semitic their views.

That was true everywhere except in the Middle East and North Africa, where more education correlated with more anti-Semitism, which raises the question of what, exactly, people are being taught.

The problem, as we learned many decades ago, is that when anti-Semitism becomes so widespread in the population, even the teachers teach its lies to their students. Hatred is a deadly and highly contagious virus.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
REID

    MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING

    Joy-Ann Reid: Why some fear the police

    If you’ve never feared the police — if you don’t get a dull ache in the pit of your stomach when you see red and blue flashing lights, even when you know you’re not doing anything wrong — consider yourself lucky.

  • FLORIDA POLITICS

    In Florida governor’s race, no limit on nastiness

    Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ramped up an asphalt agenda, calling for more lanes on Interstate 295 in Jacksonville and millions more for airports and seaports.

  •  
FRIEDMAN

    SYRIA

    Intervening in Syria comes with a price tag

    Hillary Clinton recently reignited the who-lost-Syria debate when she suggested that President Barack Obama made a mistake in not intervening more forcefully early in the Syrian civil war by arming the pro-democracy rebels. I’ve been skeptical about such an intervention — skeptical that there were enough of these “mainstream insurgents,” skeptical that they could ever defeat President Bashar Assad’s army and the Islamists and govern Syria.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category