Never before have so many Jews lived with such freedom from oppression, whether from hostile governments or bigoted neighbors. Their professional and personal aspirations, especially in North America, appear to be unlimited. They move freely within professions and institutions that once tried to keep them out, and are to be found at the upper levels of nearly every profession, short of professional sports.
And yet a new survey of global anti-Semitism suggests that any satisfaction we take should be mixed with caution. The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism found that some 26 percent of those surveyed were found to be “deeply infected” with anti-Semitic attitudes. The largely Muslim Middle East and North Africa saw the highest concentration of those holding anti-Semitic attitudes, 74 percent. Eastern Europe was profoundly troublesome with 34 percent, while even in Western Europe, one in four respondents held discredited beliefs about Jewish power and dual loyalty. In the Americas, the number was a “mere” 19 percent.
The survey arrived amid reports of a resurgent far right in Europe, especially in the former Eastern Bloc. A Czech charmer named Adam Bartos is running for the European Parliament on an anti-Semitic platform and keeps a list of prominent Jews he accuses of dominating Czech life. The newly appointed deputy speaker of Hungary’s Parliament is Tamas Sneider, a former skinhead whose far-right Jobbik party considers Jews a national security risk.
None of this suggests a second Holocaust is imminent — liberalizing forces in those countries are appalled by the ultra-nationalist appeal of these parties. The Middle East, where religion and anti-Zionism combine with toxic results, demands a different approach from Western Europe, where weak economies and an influx of African and Muslim immigrants fuel the need for scapegoats.
The survey suggests that while we should not panic, neither should we be complacent in fighting anti-Semitism, recruiting allies, and promoting tolerance around the world. We may feel safe at home, but no one can rest entirely easy when the number of those who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes approaches one billion.