MAY 13, 2014
One third of those aware of Holocaust say it's greatly exaggerated
By Brenda Gazzar, Los Angeles Daily News
Fifty-four percent of people surveyed around the world have heard of the Holocaust — and 32 percent of those believe it’s a myth or greatly exaggerated, according to a new Anti-Defamation League report.
In the Middle East and North Africa, 63 percent of survey respondents who have heard of the Holocaust believe it’s a myth or greatly exaggerated, according to the “ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism.” It also found that younger people around the world are less aware of the Holocaust, with less than half (48 percent) of all respondents under age 35 aware of the Holocaust and 61 percent of those age 50 and older aware of the Holocaust.
The data was included in the wide-ranging report, a first-of-its-kind survey of attitudes toward Jews in more than 100 countries and territories, with upward of 53,000 people interviewed.
“It’s dismaying and saddening and it’s not new news in many ways; it’s the work we do here every day to educate about the Holocaust,” said Samara Hutman, executive director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, which receives both local and foreign visitors. “We had 5,500 people come through the museum last month alone, and most of them would say to you when they enter (that) this is new information to them. They are people that haven’t yet been educated.”
Twenty-four percent of respondents in Sub-Saharan Africa, 38 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 44 percent in Asia said they were aware of the Holocaust, according to the survey. Seventy-seven percent in the Americas, 82 percent in Eastern Europe, 93 percent in Oceania, and 94 percent in Western Europe said they were aware.
The data reveals that the work of Holocaust education — which is well-known in this country — needs to be globalized in “a far more aggressive fashion” than previously thought, said David N. Myers, professor of Jewish history and chair of the UCLA History Department.
“This all the more urgently when we are tragically losing the last of the eyewitnesses to the Holocaust, that of survivors, whose own testimony is the most powerful refutation of Holocaust denial that we know,” Myers said.
Just as the Internet is being used to disseminate Holocaust denial and hate, he said, so too can it be used to educate young people around the world about the facts of the Holocaust.
“We have to be more sophisticated about reaching young people through effective, digestible and accessible sources of cyberinformation,” Myers said.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents in the global survey said 6 out of 11 negative stereotypes listed in the survey about Jews were “probably true.” The ADL report classified those respondents as individuals who “harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.”
Among the 11 stereotypes the survey listed: Jews are more loyal to Israel than to (this country/the countries they live in); Jews have too much power in the business world; Jews don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind; people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave; and Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.
ADL National Director Abraham Foxman called the findings “sobering but not surprising.”
“The most persistent stereotypes about Jews receiving the most support worldwide were those that generate dangerous political anti-Semitism — those questioning the loyalty of Jews (41 percent) to those asserting (that there is) excessive Jewish power and influence (35 percent),” Foxman said at a New York press conference.
Using the same barometer, the Middle East and North Africa had the most prevalent anti-Semitic attitudes at 74 percent, followed by Eastern Europe (34 percent), Western Europe (24 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (23 percent), Asia (22 percent), the Americas (19 percent) and Oceania (14 percent).
Foxman said it’s clear that the Middle East conflict matters with regard to anti-Semitism but “from our findings and our survey, it’s not clear whether the Middle East conflict is the cause or the excuse for anti-Semitism.”
Myers, the UCLA professor, said the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a significant irritant that allows for festering of anti-Semitic views in the Middle East and North Africa.
“If you look at the map and understand political passions across the world, particularly in the Middle East,” he said, “you can see that it is hard to deny that the conflict isn’t a significant factor in the growth of anti-Semitism.”
To view the full article, click here.