A lot of folks are talking about the big new anti-Semitism survey by the Anti-Defamation League that says that more than one in four people worldwide harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
The New York Times ran a straight story about the survey without questioning its methods, as several others now have. The Times includes these tendentious claims in the third paragraph:
The highest concentration of anti-Semitic attitudes was found in the Middle East and North Africa, the survey showed, led by the West Bank and Gaza, where 93 percent of respondents held such views, followed by Iraq at 92 percent, Yemen at 88 percent and Algeria at 87 percent. The areas where anti-Semitic attitudes were least prevalent were Oceania, the Americas and Asia. In Laos, less than 1 percent of the population held such views, the lowest anywhere, the survey said.
Oh those virtuous Laotians.
And if 74 percent of the people in North Africa and Middle Eastern countries harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, can that have anything to do with the west’s implanting a Jewish state in their midst, and that state’s reliance on Jewish symbols? The survey also says that 49 percent of Muslims have anti-Semitic beliefs. Again, aren’t Israelis part of that dyad? No; to say so would be to endorse one of 11 anti-Semitic stereotypes, per the ADL:
“People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave”
Many have faulted the design of the poll. New York Magazine said the study lacks nuance about discriminatory belief, Marsha Cohen asks why Israelis weren’t polled, the Guardian says the survey has “a political agenda” as a “propaganda tool.”
According to the ADL, a person counts as harboring anti-Semitic belief if he/she agrees with 6 of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews. These 11 include stereotypes of Jews having too much financial or global power, the aforementioned claim that “People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave,” and, the most popular negative stereotype, with 41 percent saying they believe it:
“Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.”
The ADL is serving its pro-Israel interest here. The Israel lobby theory, for instance, is a theory of outsize conservative Jewish influence. And, as the Guardian notes (below), many Israel lobbyists insist on loyalty to Israel: for instance Sheldon Adelson saying he wishes he had served in the Israeli army not the American one or the late Myra Kraft saying her sons could fight for Israel not the U.S. The list of serious folks who have identified dual loyalty as a legitimate issue includes John Judis, Eric Alterman, Michael Scheuer, MJ Rosenberg, and Melissa Weintraub.
Other negative stereotypes are that Jews have too much control over the U.S. government and too much control over the global media. These suggest that we are not allowed to talk about the remarkable rise of Jews into the Establishment, something everyone from Tony Judt to Jane Eisner to Jeffrey Goldberg has commented on. Or what about Tom Friedman saying that George W. Bush deferred to Israel because he absorbed the lesson from his father’s 1992 defeat that AIPAC rules and you must not take on Israel? We can’t talk about that.
Donna Nevel and Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark make related points in an excellent piece on the survey in the Guardian:
The most striking example of a leading question undergirds the ADL’s claim that the highest percentage of anti-Semitism is among Palestinians who live in the occupied territories. The ADL asked a group of people for whom the movement of goods, money and labor is controlled by Israel, “Do Jews have too much power in the business world?”. Were they really to be expected to answer anything but “yes”?
The survey also labels as anti-Semitic any belief, including by Palestinians in the occupied territories, that Jews talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust – despite other responses that indicate that too many people in the world don’t know about the Holocaust at all. But Palestinians commonly hear the Holocaust used to justify the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, and as justification for the continued occupation under which Palestinians are subjected to daily denial of their basic human rights.
In its press release, the ADL states that “The most widely accepted anti-Semitic stereotype worldwide is: Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.” It’s an odd indicator of anti-Semitism given that Israeli leaders consistently claim to speak for the global Jewish community and consider loyalty to Israel a precondition for being a good Jew. So it’s actually not surprising that this constant assertion has penetrated the consciousness of the rest of the world.
These questions, and many others in the ADL survey are designed to gin up paranoia.