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According To A Recent Poll, Nearly Half The World Has Not Heard Of The Holocaust
May 14, 2014
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A model of the Holocaust Monument to be built in Ottawa. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Here's a troubling statistic: according to a study released today by the Anti-Defamation League, only 54 per cent of people surveyed around the world say they've ever heard of the Holocaust. And of that group, about 32 per cent say they believe the Holocaust to have been exaggerated.

The results come from a global survey that aims to gauge attitudes about Jewish people in more than 100 countries. People were asked to respond to 11 questions about stereotypes commonly attributed to Jews. The poll included responses from more than 53,000 people, a representative number that, the ADL claims, can statistically account for 88 per cent of the world's population.

As measured by the ADL, anti-Semitism is most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, and least prevalent in English-speaking countries. Canada came in 89th out of 102 countries in terms of anti-Semitic attitudes, with 14 per cent of people surveyed harbouring anti-Jewish attitudes.

"For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. “The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hotspots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially non-existent.”

The ADL was founded in 1913. Its stated mission is "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

This study has been met with some criticism (you can read an interesting piece on New York magazine's website here), but Foxman says the ADL approached the study with caution. "We frequently get accused of seeing anti-Semitism everywhere, and we’re very conscious about the credibility,” Foxman said. “We were cautious, we were conservative, to understate rather than overstate.”

Earlier this week in Ottawa, the federal government announced plans for a new Holocaust monument to be built in the capital, opening in the fall of 2015. The monument will be designed by a team that includes architect Daniel Liebeskind (who designed the addition to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin) and photographer Edward Burtynsky.

The design is based on the Star of David. It will be built opposite the Canadian War Museum.

"This new landmark in our nation's capital will encourage people to reflect on the events of the Holocaust, remember the victims and pay tribute to the survivors. It will also be a solemn place for reflection and learning, and an unforgettable experience for Canadians and visitors alike," said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

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