Less than half under age 35 are aware of Holocaust: international poll

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

If you're under 35, chances are you're unaware of the Holocaust. So says a new global survey released by the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday, which found less than half of respondents (48 percent) under age 35 knew about it.

By contrast, 61 percent of those over 50 said they knew about the Holocaust, during which 6 million Jews and as many as 5 million Roma, gays, political and war prisoners, and others were murdered by the Nazi regime in Germany from 1939 to 1945.

The poll, which included 53,100 interviews in 96 languages in 101 countries, found about a quarter of the world's population believes some negative stereotypes about Jews are "probably true," including "Jews are more loyal to Israel than [their home] country" and "Jews have too much power in the business world."

The survey found the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had the highest percentage (93 percent) of people who agree with at least six of those statements. Those areas, known collectively as the Palestinian territories, are home to more than 4 milllion Palestinians and have long been a focus of violence and controversy between Israel and the Arab world.

Iraq had the highest number of respondents in any single country, 92 percent, expressing anti-Semitic views. Combined, the Middle East and North Africa had the highest number of respondents (74 percent) with anti-Semitic views. Iran, at 56 percent, had the lowest of any country in that region.

Elsewhere, Greece had the highest percentage, with nearly 7 in 10 people (69 percent) claiming some agreement with Jewish stereotypes.

The poll also found that 28 percent believe the number of Jews who died in the the Holocaust has been greatly exaggerated. Four percent of global respondents said the Holocaust was "a myth and didn't happen."

Abraham Foxman, longtime head of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, called the results "sobering."

"You would think — I would think — that 70 years after the Holocaust, with all the marvels of communication, of greater openness, that [anti-Semitism] would be low," Foxman told the Wall Street Journal.

In the United States, 9 percent of those surveyed held anti-Semitic views, down from 29 percent in 1964. Laos was the least anti-Semitic country, according to the poll, with a fraction (0.2 percent) expressing stereotypical views.

In terms of global anti-Semitism, the poll wasn't all bad news. Less than a quarter of respondents in western Europe (24 percent) expressed anti-Semitic views. Another poll, released by the Pew Charitable Trusts' research center on Tuesday, found favorable views of Jews is on the rise in Europe.

And while 26 percent of respondents said they believed six or more of the anti-Jewish statements were "probably true," more (28 percent) said none were true.

The survey also "didn't find a correlation between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel views," the Journal noted:

Though some Jewish leaders argue that only anti-Semitism can explain the harshness of some attacks on Israel, many critics of Israeli policy reject the notion that criticism of the country reflects an anti-Jewish bias.

In the Netherlands, for example, the survey showed 43 percent of the population had a negative attitude toward Israel, but 5 percent accepted six or more of the anti-Semitic statements.

The Anti-Defamation League survey comes after an annual report, released by Tel Aviv University and the European Jewish Congress in April, which found anti-Jewish attacks fell by nearly 20 percent in 2013.

However, the same report concluded anti-Semitism — in the form of "visual and verbal expressions, insults, abusive language and behavior, threats and harassments" — is on the rise.

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