The Rising Global Anti-Semitism

The virus that has become an epidemic.

Yom Ha’shoah or Holocaust Day, marked this year on Thursday, April 16, will commemorate 70 years since the end of World War II, and the liberation of the Nazi death camps.  The horrific toll anti-Semitism and Nazi racial hatred exacted on humanity in general and Jews in particular can never be overemphasized.  The dwindling numbers of survivors carry the pain of losing loved ones, and the brutality of the Nazis and their helpers in Eastern and elsewhere in Europe.  Six million innocent Jews were murdered, including 1.5 million children.  Humanity was a loser as well.  Millions of educated and productive Jews, who might have become inventors of new medical cures, scholarly researchers, poets, writers, and entrepreneurs, were sent to the gas chambers for the crime of being born Jewish.  Europe has blood on its hands, but little remorse.  Anti-Semitism in Europe has gone viral in 2014, and has grown worldwide.

An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 2014 survey found that more than a quarter (26%) of those surveyed in over 100 countries was infected with anti-Semitic attitudes. 54% never heard of the Holocaust. These are only some of the frightening headlines of The ADL 100: An Index of anti-Semitism.  53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories were surveyed.  ADL estimates that 1.09 billion people out of a total adult population of 4,161,578,905 are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes.

In Western Europe the survey found that 24% or 79 million adults out of a population of 332 million harbored anti-Semitic attitudes.  Greece tops the list with 69% holding anti-Semitic attitudes (6.3 million out of an adult population of 9,168,164), followed by France with 37% (18 million out of 49,322,734 adults) and Spain with 29% (11 million out of 37,966,037).  At the bottom of the list is Sweden with 4% (300,000 out of 7,446,803 adults), and the Netherlands 5% (650,000 out of 13,095,463).  In Eastern Europe, the average level of anti-Semitic attitudes were 34% with Poland at (45%), Bulgaria at 44%, and Serbia at 42%, Estonia at 22%, and Slovenia at 27%. The Czech Republic registered the lowest at 13%.

In the Americas the ADL survey found lower overall levels of anti-Semitic attitude among adults than in Europe at 19%.  Panama, where a wealthy Jewish community exists, 52% of adults harbored anti-Semitic attitudes (1.3 million out of 2.4 million), followed by Columbia 41% (12 million out of 30,461,308), and the Dominican Republic 41% (2.6 million out of 6,302,522.  At the bottom of the list was the USA with 9% of adults harboring anti-Semitic attitudes, found most prominently among college age adults. 21 million Americans out of an adult population of 237,042,682 were identified as harboring anti-Semitic attitudes.  Canadian adults with anti-Semitic attitudes amounted to 14% (3.8 million in a population of 27, 168,616 adults). Brazil was the third lowest with 16% (22 million in an adult population of 135,545,027).

The Middle East and North Africa registered the highest level of anti-Semitic attitudes among adults in the world with 74% of the total adult population – translating to roughly 200 million of an adult population of 275,147,371.  The West Bank and Gaza Arabs scored a whopping 93% (1.9 million out of 2,030,259).  Ironically, Iranian adults had the least anti-Semitic attitudes with 56%.  Still, In Iran, 29 million in an adult population of 52,547, 264, expressed anti-Semitic views.

Of all the world regions, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) tabulated the lowest percentage of adult anti-Semitic attitudes. Only 14% harbored anti-Semitic views.  The numbers for Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia recorded 23% and 22% respectively. In Africa, Senegal led the list with 53% while Tanzania had the lowest 12 percent.  In Asia, Malaysia, a Muslim majority state led the list with 61%, and Laos had virtually no adults with anti-Semitic attitudes at 0.2%.

French-Jewish writer Michel Gurfinkiel had this to say in an August 5, 2013 Mosaic article. “Polls show as many as 40 percent of Europeans holding the opinion that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians; or the recent moves to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter; or the intense social pressures created by the rise of radical and often violent Islam (of the kind that targeted Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and his two boys outside the Jewish school in Toulouse). Statements by EU officials and others, even while they acknowledge the “frightening” degree of anti-Semitism prevalent in today’s Europe, and even while they promise to fight against it with all the means at their disposal, also contend (in the words of the prime minister of Baden-Württemberg) that anti-Semitism is ‘not present in the heart of society’ or in ‘major political parties.’ Such bland reassurances have quite understandably brought little comfort.”

Gurfinkiel envisions an unhappy end for European Jewry.  He writes: “To the degree that Israel’s popularity had been an important factor in Europe’s postwar embrace of its Jews, the growing rejection of Israel undermined the Jewish image and standing. According to a 2011 study on ‘intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination in Europe’ by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (linked to Germany’s Social Democratic party), 63 percent of Poles and 48 percent of Germans believe that Israel is conducting a genocidal war against the Palestinians aimed at their “obliteration.” The same study found 55 percent of Poles, 41 percent of Dutch, 37 percent of British, and 37 percent of Germans in agreement with the following statement: ‘Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews.”

American campuses are the new arena for anti-Semitic growth.  At the UCLA, last February, a Jewish student nominated to the Student Council Judicial Board, was voted down by implying that Rachel Beyda, the Jewish student, might have divided loyalties (perhaps pro-Israel tendencies), an anti-Semitic trope used for centuries.

A study on anti-Semitism in U.S. campuses by the Louis D. Brandies Center at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, titled National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students 2014: Anti-Semitism Report provided a quantitative measure of the degree of anti-Semitism found on college campuses and affiliated institutions.  The surveyors were able to gather anonymous comments from Jewish students, which included the following: “The divestment campaign and other anti-Israel campaigns are intertwined with rampant anti-Semitism. After a widespread anti-Israel/anti-Semitic attack earlier this year the University issued a weak response.  Jewish students…want to know that our University stands by us.”  Another student wrote,” Anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiments are a growing problem on many college campuses, especially with groups like BDS and Breaking the Silence.”  A third student mention that “There is a constant pressure to defend the State of Israel, because we’re frequently in an environment where people have only heard sound bites about the situation, or only know one side of the story.” These are examples of the prevailing travails of Jewish college students in America.

Vibrant Jewish communities once existed in the Arab Middle East and North Africa. Today the region is virtually “judenrein.” Notwithstanding the absence of Jews, Jew hatred is so prevalent it is passed with “mother’s milk,” and reaffirmed in mosques, schools, and official media.  Despite of the fact that the West Bank and Gaza recorded the highest percentage of anti-Semitic attitudes, western governments expect Israel to sign a sham peace treaty with leaders like Mahmoud Abbas who lead deadly incitement campaigns against Israel. The U.S. administration, western governments, and the UN agencies have done little to curb the monstrous rise of this ancient hatred called anti-Semitism.  The Holocaust that ended 70-years ago did not stamp out the anti-Semitic virus, and in recent decades it has become an epidemic.

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