Canada scores well in global survey of anti-Semitic attitudes

Graffiti is found on a home in Vaughan, Ont., on April 27. (Facebook photo)

In their surveys of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, both B’nai Brith Canada and police forces across the country have recorded a steady increase in incidents involving Jews.

B’nai Brith reported that in 2018, incidents in which Jews were victimized increased for the third year in a row, while Toronto police reported that Jews remained the single most targeted religious group in the city that year. Similar results have been found nationally.

The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism, which puts the situation in Canada in a broader global context – at least when it comes to public attitudes about Jews.

For Canadians, there was good news and bad news in the report.

The bad news is that eight per cent of adult Canadians harbour a number of anti-Semitic beliefs about Jews. The good news is that at eight per cent, Canada is ranked second lowest among the 18 countries surveyed worldwide this year, and has one of the lowest rates of anti-Semitism out of the 100 countries surveyed at different times since 2014.

Canadians can also take heart in some even better news: anti-Semitic attitudes appear to be declining. In 2014, the last time the ADL surveyed Canadians, 14 per cent of adult Canadians (3.8 million) were found to hold anti-Semitic views. In 2019, the number stood at 2.3 million.

While the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes is arguably a case of one is too many, Canada is doing better compared to the rest of the world, including lands from which Jews immigrated.

In 2019, the percentage of those holding anti-Semitic views in Poland was 48 per cent; in Russia, 31 per cent; Ukraine, 46 per cent; Hungary, 42 per cent; and South Africa, 47 per cent.

Western European countries with significant Jewish populations showed better, with 11 per cent of those surveyed in the United Kingdom and 18 per cent in Italy adopting anti-Semitic views.

In 2019, the lowest level of anti-Semitic attitudes was found in Sweden, at four per cent. Worldwide, in its 2014 report, the ADL found that the places where anti-Jewish stereotypes were negligible included Laos (0.2 per cent), Philippines (three per cent) and Vietnam (six per cent).

Looking at the results regionally, countries in North Africa and the Middle East had the highest level of anti-Semitic attitudes – by a wide margin. Overall, 74 per cent shared negative views about Jews. In eastern Europe, the number was 34 per cent, in western Europe, 24 per cent, in sub-Saharan Africa, 23 per cent and in the Americas, the number sits at 19 per cent.

Worldwide, 26 per cent believe in anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews.

The United States, in which two gunman opened fire on a kosher deli in Jersey City on Dec. 11, 10 per cent admitted to anti-Semitic attitudes in the most recent survey of that country in 2015.

In compiling the 2019 data, the ADL commissioned First International Resources to survey attitudes and opinions in 18 countries with substantial Jewish populations. Altogether, 500 Canadians were surveyed by telephone from April 15-20, part of 9,056 random interviews in 18 countries.

Interviewees were asked 11 questions based on anti-Semitic stereotypes, including whether they agreed that: “Jews are more loyal to Israel” than to the country they live in (25 per cent of Canadians said that is “probably true”); “Jews have too much power in the business world” (17 per cent said “probably true”); “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” (28 per cent said “probably true”); “Jews have too much control over the global media” (10 said “probably true”); and “Jews think they are better than other people” (13 per cent said “probably true”).

As for Canada’s overall mark, which is noticeably lower than these numbers seem to indicate, the eight per cent “index score represents the percentage of adults in this country who answered ‘probably true’ to a majority of the anti-Semitic stereotypes tested,” the survey stated.

That would suggest that many other Canadians arguably held some anti-Semitic views, just not for a majority of the questions asked of them.