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November 21, 2019 1:30 am

ADL’s 2019 Survey of Global Antisemitism: 10 Things We Learned

avatar by Ben Cohen


A member of Berlin’s Jewish community speaking to journalists at the trial of a Syrian immigrant who assaulted a man wearing a kippah (illustrative) . Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

The Anti-Defamation League’s survey of antisemitic attitudes released on Thursday covers over 9,000 respondents in 18 countries across four continents. As well as probing the extent of more traditional antisemitic beliefs — Jews exercise too much financial power, Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own countries — the survey also examines new areas of concern like the BDS movement and attitudes to Jews among European Muslims.

Here are ten ADL findings on global antisemitism in 2019 that stand out:

Antisemitism levels are stable in western Europe, but increasing in eastern Europe and parts of the southern hemisphere.

On both sides of the continent, antisemitic attitudes are pervasive. But in eastern Europe, the percentage of people who continue to believe in one of the most enduring and pernicious antisemitic myths is little short of alarming. Asked if Jews exercised too much power in the business world, 71 percent of Hungarians, 50 percent of Russians, 56 percent of Poles and 72 percent of Ukrainians answered in the affirmative. Meanwhile, 52 percent of South African respondents think that Jews exercise too much power in international financial markets, with 50 percent of Argentines and 38 percent of Brazilians believing the same.

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Muslim respondents in Europe are more amenable to Holocaust denial than are non-Muslims, but less amenable than Muslims in the Middle East.

Thirty percent of the European Muslim respondents to the ADL survey said that the Nazi Holocaust was a myth or greatly exaggerated, compared with 64 percent of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa who gave the same response to an ADL survey of 2014. In terms of attitudes to Israel, the ADL survey suggests that outright enmity towards the Jewish state is not as pronounced among European Muslims as is commonly believed. Asked if they believed that Israel had the right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, 40 percent agreed, while 30 percent said they had sympathies with “both” sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Economic antisemitism” prevails among a majority of European Muslims.

It’s not just some Christians who believe that Jews exercise disproportionate power over the global economy. Asked if Jews exercised too much power in the business world, an overall 56 percent of European Muslims agreed that they did. In France — where deadly antisemitic violence has been motivated by the belief that Jews are wealthy — 61 percent of Muslim respondents concurred that Jews were too powerful in the economy. And whereas the hoary trope about Jews controlling the US government is declining among European non-Muslims, among Muslims in five out of the seven western European nations surveyed, 50 percent or more believed that stereotype to be true.

Belief in conspiracy theories is rife.

Antisemitism goes hand in glove with conspiracy theories which assert that true power in the world is in the grip of invisible forces. In Spain, 58 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “much of our lives are being controlled by secret conspiracies arranged by powerful groups,” while in France and Germany, the figures were 52 percent and 37 percent respectively. Presented with the same statement, 62 percent of Russian respondents concurred.

Dual loyalty, financial power, Holocaust exploitation: the three most prevalent antisemitic stereotypes.

Dual loyalty — the accusation that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own countries — is the most common antisemitic belief, followed by the conviction that Jews exercise too much power over the global economy and the more recent trope that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust. 70 percent of Polish respondents agreed that Jews talked too much about the Holocaust, while 62 percent of Spanish respondents said that Jews were more loyal to Israel.

Antisemitism is a serious problem on both the left and the right.

“While antisemitism crosses ideological lines, in most countries, people on the ideological right are more likely to believe in a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes tested,” the ADL noted. “Belgium and the Netherlands are the exception — here anti-Semitic beliefs are more common on the left.”

Respondents in most countries don’t believe that their governments need to do more to combat antisemitism.

Despite documented rises in antisemitic violence in Europe, the United States and Latin America, only a minority of respondents to the ADL survey supported increased government action against the problem in their respective countries. In Germany, where the federal government has appointed a national commissioner to combat antisemitism, only 30 percent of respondents supported greater state intervention, while in France, where antisemitic outrages rose by more than 70 percent in 2018, that number was just 21 percent.

The influence of the BDS movement is in decline even as antisemitism rises.

This is the case in every country, bar South Africa (see below). Support for the economic and cultural boycott of Israel was expressed by 15 percent of British and 10 percent of French respondents, while in seven countries — the Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, Argentina, Austria, Germany and Ukraine — the call to boycott Israel received the backing of less than 10 percent of respondents.

In Austria and Germany, nearly one in three respondents agree that the behavior of Jews is what causes antisemitism.

Thirty-two percent of German and 31 percent of Austrian respondents concurred that “people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave”– a worrying level of agreement in the two countries that served as the birthplace of national socialism less than a century ago.

South Africa displays high levels of both antisemitism and support for the BDS movement.

In South Africa, where the ruling ANC has pursued a rabidly anti-Israel foreign policy, hostility towards Israel and Jews is growing, increasing the country’s ADL “index score” by nine points. In terms of the BDS movement, 38 percent of South African respondents expressed their support — a full 20 points above the next country on the list, Belgium. But the problem in South Africa is wider than the BDS movement alone, the ADL survey suggests. In a country that has been plagued by anti-immigrant violence in recent years, 41 percent of South Africans believe that “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting immigrants coming to our country.” When asked about dual loyalty, 60 percent of South African respondents said Jews were more loyal to Israel than to South Africa. 

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