The ‘New’ Numbers Are In

A survey by the ADL released Tuesday confirms something we have always known to be true: Anti-Semitism exists. But the pervasiveness of this prejudice is what makes the survey’s numbers so shocking.

According to the study, a full 26 percent of individuals worldwide answered “probably true” when asked what they believe about the majority of anti-Semitic stereotypes tested. These included statements such as “Jews have too much power in the business world” and “Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

In fact, two out of every three people surveyed either never heard of the Holocaust or do not believe historical accounts are accurate.

While the overall number (9 percent) is much better in the United States than it is in the rest of the world, some of the numbers are equally disturbing. Twenty-two percent of Americans think Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust, and 18 percent believe Jews have too much power in the business world.

What is most disquieting is the apparent epidemic of anti-Semitism in Western Europe, where the overall region scores an amazing 24 percent. This despite only 14 percent saying they interact with Jewish people somewhat or very often. Still, 35percent believe Jews have too much power in the business world and 34 percent believe Jews have too much power in international financial markets. Among Western Europeans, 31 percent believe the Jews have too much control over the U.S. government.

Even in the United States, the “Interaction with Jews” question had a surprising answer. Fifty percent of Americans don’t interact with Jews often, if at all. Yet the number of anti-Semitic Americans is much smaller than that of Western Europe.

An interesting correlation can be drawn between the attitudes of respondents toward Israel and that of how they feel about Jews in general. Although they mostly deny it having any significant influence on them, 26 percent of Western Europeans have a negative view of the Jewish State — only 2% more than their index number. In the United States, only 13 percent see Israel negatively, just 4 percent more than their index number. (The favorable rating for Israel is more pronounced, at 73 percent in the U.S. and at only 46 percent in Western Europe.) Anti-Israel activists and political leaders have long dismissed the idea that the motivation for their movement is little more than thinly camouflaged anti-Semitism. If this survey is correct, the two seem more interconnected than they’d like to admit.

For us, however, this survey provides tangible proof and only reinforces what Chazal tell us (Rashi, Vayishlach 33:4) and we know to be true: Halachah hi b’yadua sheEsav sonei l’Yaakov.