Anti Defamation League has gathered international data on antisemitism around the globe. Here you can explore the data.
Overall, it is not good news. The blog No Cross, No Crescent summarizes the data thus:
New data from the Anti-defamation League reveal, in chilling numbers, how bad the situation actually is. In an unprecedented survey covering 86% of the entire world population, they have gauged negative attitudes toward the Jews, and the results aren’t pretty. In total, 1.09 billion people in the surveyed nations are estimated to harbor antisemitic views; and 35% have never heard about the Holocaust. Worse, only 33% of the surveyed population believe the Holocaust is a reality as described by history; 32% believe it is either a myth or grossly exaggerated.
Of course, I’m more interested in the data concerning Iran. And this blogpost deals with that.
These are the results for countries in the Middle East (click to enlarge):
As you can see, Iran is the least antisemitic country in the Middle East. The second least country is Turkey, with 69%, which means all Middle Eastern countries have 70% or higher antisemitism except in Iran for which the number is 56%, which is significantly less than the rest of the region.
Of course, the situation is still very troublesome. Among the Asian countries in the survey, Iran would rank the third worst country after Malaysia (another majority Muslim country) and Armenia (and there’s historical animosity between Armenians and Jews), and it would rank more antisemitic than majority Muslim countries Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, and Kazakhstan. In comparison to the Western European countries Iran would rank the second worst after Greece (what’s up with Greece?) and in countries in Americas, Eastern Europe, and Oceania, Iran ranks the worst.
So, in summary: Better than the region, not very good globally.
Of course, if you had asked me to answer based on my hunch, I’d say that the majority of people are not antisemitic, as I thought it was something confined to regime supporters, but the data seems very credible.
Of course in a country like there’s always troublesome to conduct surveys through phones: people are afraid of being wire-trapped, and especially on a subject like antisemitism which sets off all sorts of alarms. But 56% is closer to 60% than 50%, so even considering that margin of error, I have to suck it up and sadly accept that the majority of my country are antisemitic.
However, I still think this data is source of hope for Iran and not despair. In age groups, antisemitism drops as the population gets younger. It drops from 61% in 50+ category to 54% in 18-34 category, which is a huge difference, and I hope the time will reduce the numbers even more.
Also I think one reason that the numbers are high are the lingering stereotypes rather than outright hatred of Jews, and I think those stereotypes can be abolished if the propaganda of the regime is softened a little. A high percentage of Iranians believe things like “most wars are caused by Jews” or “Jews control the business” but I think those beliefs are stemmed from non-stop regime propaganda which makes lies seem like fact, and very probably will be corrected by education and the rise of internet.
Of course, the most delicious part of this survey is this: Only 18% of Iranians think “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust”. We owe this to Ahmadinejad. By putting those clown shows in the world, he incited much negative reaction in the media and among the reformists and oppositions. Holocaust denial has become associated with Ahmadinejad, and it’s completely understandable that 82% of Iranians want nothing to do with him.
Now here are some points to discuss:
- Iranians and Jews have no historical animosity.
- As the hegemonic ethnicity, Persians and Jews have no historical animosity, while Persians and Arabs have a long history of animosity. I think anti-Arab racism is a much bigger problem in Iran than antisemitism.
- If you put the ideological positions aside, and rely solely on geopolitical interests, Iran and Israel are natural allies. But Iran and Arab countries especially Saudi Arabia are natural competitors.
- People usually turn against the allies of the regime. In the 70s Iranians were deeply anti-West and anti-Israel because the Shah regime was close to them. Now people hate Russia. During the Green Movement protests the regime supporters shouted “Death to America” and the protesters shouted back “Death to Russia”. I think if you poll Iranians would support killing Assad and toppling his regime with a strong majority. So, it’s natural for Iranians to grow more favorable towards Israel and as an extension the antisemitism might drop as well (I don’t mean to imply criticism of Israel and antisemitism are the same, I’m talking about blind hatred here). [That said, Netanyahu is reviving the anti-Israel sentiment to a degree, with calling Rouhani a wolf in sheep clothing and trying to sabotage the nuclear agreement and saying some stupid things about the Iranian youth, but I hope this is targeted against Netanyahu himself and not Israel as a nation].