According to a recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), across 100 nations, 1.09 billion people (of the 4.2 billion surveyed) hold anti-Semitic attitudes, and half have never heard of the Holocaust. Across the board, those holding the highest level of anti-Semitic attitudes were where? You guessed it. The Middle East. Compare the 93% of Palestinians to the 9% of those in the USA, or 14% in Canada holding anti-Semitic attitudes, and it isn’t difficult to understand where the flaw lays in the peace discussion.
“For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. “The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hot spots [of anti-Semitism], as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially nonexistent.”
In juxtaposition with the US and Canada, the south Asian country of Laos holds last place on the list; only 0.2% of its adult population holds anti-Semitic beliefs.
Using an 11-question survey, tested and retested over the past five decades, the ADL found 26% of sample data suggests that 1.09 billion people are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes (based on the criteria that they answered ‘probably true’ to 6+/11 questions).
Moving past the West Bank and Gaza to the remainder of the Arab World, those calling for a peace based upon their terms (’67 ‘boarders’, Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ etc), 74% of those polled agreed with the majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes portrayed in the ADL’s survey. The second greatest conglomerate of anti-Semites is Eastern Europe, where one third of the population continues to hold anti-Semitic beliefs.
“It is clear in this survey that the conflict in the Middle East matters,” Foxman said during a Tuesday press conference debuting the data. “But it is not clear from the survey whether it is the cause or the excuse for anti-Semitism.”
With Foxman’s point taken into account, it is clear that those who hold anti-Semitic attitudes are less likely to wish for the continuation of a Jewish state. Perhaps this is why so many in the Arab world are calling for a democratic rather than Jewish Democratic State. Could it be perhaps that they simply don’t believe in the legitimacy of a Jewish state?
There are 56 countries with a Muslim Majority that follow at least some of the laws of Sharia, 71 countries are predominantly Christian, four hold a Hindu majority, but only one has a Jewish majority. Could these other countries justly continue to exist without legitimizing a Jewish state? According to self-proclaimed anti-Semites, they can.
So where is the problem? 74% of those surveyed had never met a Jewish person, only 16% was correct that the Jewish population is under 1% of the world whereas 18% believed 10% of the world was Jewish. Only 54% of those polled had heard of the Holocaust, a testament to the schools curriculum in those countries with whom the Jewish State is seeking peace. Is it that surprising when a Palestinian’s life was threatened by other Palestinians for taking his class on a trip to see the remnants of the concentration camps in Europe? To add on to this absurdity, 1/3 of those who have heard of the Holocaust believe it has been greatly exaggerated.
When one side teaches that the other are occupiers and vilifies them in their school books where’s the problem? For example, in many UNRWA sponsored textbooks, Zionism is comparable to racism, Israel is an occupier, and Israel is to blame for the world’s troubles. Shouldn’t we be taught the histories of one another if we truly want to make peace?
Without a sense of understanding and trust, particularly if we hope to create and maintain peace following the history of Palestinian anti-Semitism and the support of Palestinian leaders to the Nazis, something has to change. Haj Amin Al-Husseini, Mufti in Jerusalem, was noted as a key and public supporter to Adolph Hitler, particularly in his decisions regarding Jews.
To elaborate further upon the history of mistrust, 40% of Palestinians today continue to support Palestinian suicide bombings. It must be noted that this is down from nearly three fourth of Palestinians ten years ago, but it is still far too high a percentage to build a sense of trust. To quote a friend, “chances are, today, if a Jew meets a group of 10 Palestinians, he would be lucky to find one that doesn’t hate him, and luckier still to find less than five who don’t wish him to be blown up with his family.” Clearly, a statement such as that is perceived as extreme, but considering the statistics, it may not be far from the truth depending on where the sample population is found.
Decades of mistrust in conjunction with endlessly flawed education of Palestinians is a clear barrier to the peace process. With schools being funded by UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Work Association for the Palestinians), the one UN commission dedicated to a single refugee population, which by the way actively and inactively supports terrorist activities (through protection of individuals within its care), UNRWA has perpetuated a sense of distrust and broken communication. Until the Palestinian government and UNRWA schools adjust their curriculum across the board, and until UNRWA stops manipulating facts, figures, and history, the Palestinian people will only continue to suffer at the hands of those they appoint to assist them.
By denying the Holocaust, perpetuating anti-Semitic attitudes, and creating incomplete curricula those who seek to create a Palestinian State only drive themselves away from the peace process. Muslims outside of the Middle East and North Africa are far less anti-Semitic, and yet they are still scapegoated due to the actions of the rest of the Arab world. Perhaps those in the Middle East and North Africa should consider learning from those who have taken the time to understand the others. Then, it will be time for peace.
Also published on the Committee for Accuracy in Middle Eastern Reporting in America (CAMERA) blog in focus on May 15 2014
Seth Greenwald is an intern at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle Eastern Reporting in America (CAMERA) and a student at Clark University. Seth can be reached at Sgreenwald@clarku.edu