Global Levels, Trends, and Correlates of Antisemitic Attitudes Through the Prism of Modernization Theory: Insights from the Pew Research Center and World Values Surveys
Today, the most fundamental understanding of what stands behind the differences in the volume of antisemitic attitudes between different countries is limited; the understanding of how antisemitic attitudes are related to other types of attitudes is unsatisfactory and the awareness of the trajectories of change in quantitative indices of antisemitic attitudes is rudimentary. This article is an attempt to fill these gaps. The principal objective is to map and explain the unfavorable attitudes to Jews on a global scale. Mapping of the unfavorable attitudes to Jews is now possible both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and it is carried out on the basis of the surveys of global attitudes conducted by Pew Research Center. An explanation of the observed patterns of attitudes to Jews is proposed with reference to the existing research on the global evolution of social and political attitudes, embodied by the modernization theory of Inglehart and Welzel. The findings have some implications for some scholarly debates regarding the place of antisemitic attitudes in the big picture of human history and for policy initiatives to combat antisemitism.
Keywords: antisemitism statistics, attitudes, modernization theory, Pew Research Center, World Values Surveys
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See Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity, (London: Penguin, 2011); Deirdre McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006); Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2010); Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2016); Ronald F. Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Major examples in this respect are: Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small, “Anti-Israel sentiment predicts anti-Semitism in Europe,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 50, no. 4 (August 2006): 548–61; Dominique Reynié, L’antisemitisme dans l’opinion publique francaise. Nouveaux eclairages, (Fondapol, 2014); Nonna Mayer et al., “La revitalisation des vieux cliches anti-Semites,” in La lutte contre le racisme, antisemitisme et la xenophobie, CNCDH (2014): 235–50; La Documentation Francaise, 2015; Günther Jikeli, “Explaining the Discrepancy of Antisemitic Acts and Attitudes in 21st Century France,” Contemporary Jewry 37, (2017): 257–73; L. Daniel Staetsky, Antisemitism in Contemporary Britain, JPR Report, September 2017. URL: http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Antisemitism_in_contemporary_Great_Britain.pdf.
Inglehart and Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy, 2005.
See L. Daniel Staetsky, Antisemitism in Contemporary Britain, 2017.
In addition to the Pew-GAP surveys, which are global in scope and at least annual in frequency, Pew conducted two
special regional surveys as part of its Religion and Public Life Project—namely the “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Eastern Europe” survey, 2015/16, and “Being Christian in Western Europe” survey, 2017. In the two regional surveys, the subject of attitudes to Jews was investigated in greater depth, testing the respondents’ pre- paredness to have Jews as family members, neighbors and fellow citizens. The results of these surveys have not been incorporated into this article due to the lack of availability of the long time series.
The Pew-GAP datasets are available from: http://www.pewglobal.org/datasets/. Data for the year 1991 were extracted from the topline summaries of the results of the 2009 survey, where they were placed for comparative purposes. The raw data for 1991 have not been made available to the public.
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002).
This evaluation is based on the proportion of Jewish respondents in the Pew-GAP Israeli dataset who responded that their opinion of Jews is somewhat or very unfavorable. Holding such an opinion by Jews cannot be inter- preted in a straightforward manner as an expression of negativity towards Jews. It should be understood, in our view, as an indication of a “system-error,” for example, erroneous, inattentive, humorous responses. We assume that system-error is “hidden” in all country-specific figures. In most cases, reducing the proportion of people with unfavorable attitudes to Jews by 5% is inconsequential for the “big story” told by the data.
Based on World Values Survey wave 5 (2008), the figure has been adopted from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.
World Values Surveys website: dataset “WVS Wave 1 to 6 Key Aggregates,” time-pooled cross section, was used.
Location of the dataset and accompanying documentation: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSEventsShow. jsp?ID=367. For the majority of countries (26) the scores were derived from Wave 5 of the World Values Surveys, WVS (2005–2007), which was the fullest set of scores. For four countries the scores were obtained from Wave 3 of the WVS (1995–1998), for another group of four countries the scores were obtained from Wave 4 of the WVS (1999–2003), for one country-from Wave 6 (2011–2014). Variables EVI_culmap and SVI_culmap were used to cap- ture the countries’ positioning on the survivalism and traditionalism scales, respectively. This version of the data- set includes updated versions of cultural variation: emancipative values, EVI_culmap (previously “self-expression” values) and secular values, SVI_culmap (previously “secular-rational” values). The worlds of meaning behind the old and the new variables remain essentially the same. Detailed documentation available at the link above should be consulted for further details.
The equation that captures the relationship between the level of unfavorable opinion about Jews and the dimen- sions of human development is of the form: Y=40.7+(–9.8)X1+(–18.3)X2, where Y is the proportion a country’s population holding unfavorable opinion about Jews, and X1 and X2 are the country’s traditionalism and survival- ism scores, respectively.
Five countries with the largest gap between the observed and the predicted proportions are presented.
In all Islamic countries the question was about Jews in general, rather than about the local Jews.
Lars Dencik and Karl Marosi, Different Antisemitisms: Perceptions and Experiences of Antisemitism Among Jews
in Sweden and Across Europe, JPR Report (February 2017). URL: https://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR_2017._Different_Antisemitisms_in_Sweden_and_across_Europe.pdf.
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in EU Member States: Experience and Perceptions of Antisemitism (Publications Office of the European Union, 2013). URL: http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/FRA_Report.November_2013.pdf; European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism Among Jews in Europe: Second Survey on Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in the EU (Publications Office of the European Union, 2018). URL: https://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/FRA.Experiences_and_perceptions_of_antisemitism.December_2018.pdf.
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