May 23, 2014

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May 22, 2014


[A slightly edited version of this comment appeared originally on the Jadaliyya website.]

On 13 May 2014, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released THE ADL GLOBAL 100: AN INDEX OF ANTI-SEMITISM, a survey of 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories. According to the ADL: “The survey found that anti-Semitic attitudes are persistent and pervasive around the world. More than one-in-four adults, 26 percent of those surveyed, are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes. This figure represents an estimated 1.09 billion people around the world.” The poll has come in for substantial criticism on both methodological and political grounds, from commentators as diverse as Noah Feldman of Harvard University and Amira Hass of the Israeli newspaper HaaretzJadaliyya asked forensic scholar and noted author Norman Finkelstein for his views on the ADL survey and criticism of its methods, and whether he found the poll results alarming.  Here’s what he said:

I would find it alarming if anyone except ADL head Abe Foxman (and perhaps the New York Times editorial board) took this survey seriously.  Fortunately, most every sane person has come to take anything the ADL utters with a dozen boulders of salt. (Having been labeled a “Holocaust denier” by this freakish organization, I think a dozen boulders is still several dozen too few.)

I would also find it alarming if anyone except Foxman (and the Times) gave a hoot about the poll’s conclusions. Personally, I am alarmed by genocide and war, death from starvation and preventable diseases, massive homelessness and unemployment, global warming and nuclear proliferation. I see no cause for alarm if not everyone loves by far the richest and most successful ethnic minority on the planet.  Back in the day, sensible people (including most every Jew) detested WASPs.

But is it even true that a quarter of the world’s population is anti-Semitic? I am actually surprised at how low the percentage is, in light of the calculated absurdity of the survey questions. According to the ADL, an affirmative response to the statements in bold-face reveals an anti-Semitic mindset:

Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country. But, according to Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, diasporan Jews who support Zionism are supposed to be more loyal to Israel than their home country.  Their “duty,” he said, was “to assist the State of Israel in all conditions and under any circumstances…whether the government in which the Jews in question owe allegiance desires it or not” (Zvi Ganin, An Uneasy Alliance: American Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948-1957, pp. 119-20; emphasis added).

Jews have too much power in international financial markets, or over global affairs, or over the global media, or in the business world, or over the United States government. But why would affirmative responses to these descriptions prove anti-Semitism? When people of color assert that Whites exercise too much economic power, or feminists assert that Males exercise too much political power, does that prove anti-White-ism or anti-Male-ism?  Even Foxman concedes that “proportionately there has always been a relatively prominent Jewish presence in the movie, TV, and record industries for a variety of social and cultural reasons.” But he alleges that Jews have not abused this cultural power, producing only a “few films dealing with overtly Jewish characters or themes.” (Abraham H.Foxman, Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, pp. 249-50).    Indeed, in the past 25 years Hollywood has released a mere two hundred films on the Nazi holocaust.

Jews think they are better than other people. But, after all the secular success Jews have experienced since World War II, in the arts and sciences, in business and politics, in law and medicine, it would be a wonder if Jews did not think they are better than other people, just as the WASPs who preceded them thought they were superior to everyone else. Haven’t Jews (and a few self-hating goyim) written dozens of books kvelling about how amazing Jews are (e.g., Charles Silberman’s A Certain People and goyische George Gilder’s The Israel Test)?

People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave. How does this prove anti-Semitism? If one were to say that Jews hate Germans or Poles because of the way Germans or Poles behave(d), would that prove anti-German-ism, or anti-Pole-ism?

Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.  Whoever does not answer in the affirmative to this statement must be either a masochist or certifiably insane. Even the former speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Avraham Burg, has written a book deploring what he calls the “Shoah industry” (Avraham Burg, The Holocaust is Over, We Must Rise from Its Ashes, pp. 4-5).

The only thing proven by this poll is that the ADL still hopes to cash in on the ever-burgeoning anti-Semitism industry, and to immunize Israel by labeling legitimate criticism of its policies as motivated by an irrational animus towards Jews.