ADL Letter re Global Survey on Anti-Semitic Attitudes

This letter appeared in The Jewish Press on June 13, 2014.

Letters to the Editor
The Jewish Press

To the Editor:

Sydney Ross Singer’s claim that the Anti-Defamation League’s methodology in identifying anti-Semitic attitudes leads to responses that are far higher than reality falls apart on several grounds (“Do ADL Surveys Cause Anti-Semitism?,” May 29).

First, the 11-question methodology has stood the test of time. It was developed by some of the most sophisticated academics at the University of California at Berkeley. When first used in 1964, it showed that 29 percent of Americans harbored anti-Semitic views. In recent years, mirroring the significant progress Jews have made in America, those numbers have gone down to the low teens. In other words, the poll reflects American behavior and has accurately shown the evolution of attitudes.

Similarly, within the ADL Global 100 poll itself, rather than a monolithic exaggeration of anti-Semitism which Mr. Singer claims, we find a variation that, for bad and for good, often reflect what we already know about different nations.  Thus, it is hardly a surprise that Middle East countries have the highest percentages. Nor is it surprising, considering the unpleasant history, that East European countries are the second highest.

On the other hand, it is not surprising that the Scandinavian countries are at the low end of the spectrum of anti-Semitic attitudes, that in Latin America, Brazil is the lowest, that the Czech Republic is by far the lowest in Eastern Europe, and that Australia and New Zealand are also low.  Yes, there are some unexpected results -- for example, South Korea at 53 percent and Panama at 52 percent. But in truth, this variation, including countries that show little or no anti-Semitism demonstrates that the methodology works.

We have said that we approach this survey with humility. It is the first ever done. We hope to learn much going forward. But we think this unprecedented study offers unique opportunities to grapple with this global phenomenon of anti-Semitism.


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

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