Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic: The Correlation

In a recent study (pdf), two Yale University professors have found a direct correlation between degrees of anti-Israel sentiment and degrees of anti-Semitism. Edward H. Kaplan, of Yale’s School of Management, and Professor Charles A. Small, of Yale’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies, conclude:

From a large survey of 5,000 citizens of ten European countries, we showed that the prevalence of those harboring (selfreported) anti-Semitic views consistently increases with respondents’ degree of anti-Israel sentiment (see Figures 2 and 3 and Table 3), even after controlling for other factors.

“Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Anti-Semitism in Europe”
Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 50 No. 4, August 2006, 560


This should hardly be surprising. The I-P conflict is, as always, heated, but those of us who tend to support Israel have often wondered aloud why it is that with all the state-sponsored injustice in the world, from the Chinese in Tibet to the genocide in Darfur, that Israel’s alleged, and significantly smaller, violation of human rights receives such a never-ending histrionic response from American liberals? The typical answer is money. Anti-Zionists and Israel-Haters on the American left tend to claim that the reason they focus so much on Israel, with hardly any consideration or rebuke for any other country, despite much worse human rights violations, is because they do not want their tax-dollars funding those violations.

While such an answer does not seem the least bit unreasonable, it fails to demonstrate why, if that is the case, that anti-Zionism, and anti-Israel hatred, is even more virulent on the European left than the American left? Since European countries do not financially sponsor the Jewish state, if tax-dollars truly explained the phenomenon one would expect to find a lesser degree of anti-Zionism and Israel hatred there, yet the opposite is true.

Kaplan and Small write:

Not only do we find that the extent of anti-Israel sentiment differentially predicts the likelihood of anti-Semitism among survey respondents, but the predictions are sharp. Those with extreme anti-Israel sentiment are roughly six times more likely to harbor anti-Semitic views than those who do not fault Israel on the measures studied…

Journal of Conflict Resolution, pg. 550


When Kaplan and Small refer to “extreme anti-Israel sentiment” they are not, of course, referring to mere criticism of Israel. It must be understood that there is a substantive difference between “criticism” and loathing. Criticism looks at policy and offers alternatives. It is not meant to, and does not have the effect of, demeaning, dehumanizing, or vilifying its target. Statements that equate Israel with Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa, or that suggest that Israel is somehow “illegitimate,” or that justify suicide bombing and violence against Israeli civilians, are not criticism. They are, instead, hyperbolic rhetorical constructions designed to create hatred in a propaganda war against the Jewish state.

When Kaplan and Small refer to “extreme anti-Israel sentiment” they are referring to statements such as the following:

On April 22, 2005, the Executive Council of Britain’s Association of University Teachers (AUT) voted to boycott two Israeli universities (Bar Ilan and Haifa). The boycott was advocated “as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid” (http://www.zionismontheweb.org/AUT/autres.htm), while the boycott’s main proponent stated that this action would increase pressure on the “illegitimate state of Israel” (http:// education. guardian.co.uk/higher/worldwide/story/0,9959,1466250,00.html). Similarly spirited statements include London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s assertion that Israeli Prime Minister “Sharon continues to organise terror. More than three times as many Palestinians as Israelis have been killed in the present conflict” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1430132,00.html). Addressing suicide bombings in Israel, philosopher Ted Honderich wrote that “those Palestinians who have resorted to necessary killing have been right to try to free their people, and those who have killed themselves in the cause of their people have indeed sanctified themselves”
(http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i09/09b01201.htm).

Many Israeli and Jewish individuals and organizations have characterized statements such as these as anti-Semitic in effect if not intent, given that Israel is singled out in the face of silence over human rights violations committed elsewhere.

Journal of Conflict Resolution, pg. 548 – 549.

Indeed, calls to boycott Israeli universities to pressure the “illegitimate state of Israel” or assertions that Israel is a “terrorist” state or suggestions that violence against innocent Israeli civilians are justified, do not represent “criticism,” but hatred. What Kaplan and Small have demonstrated is that the greater degree of such sentiments the greater likelihood that the individuals holding to such beliefs are also anti-Semitic.

While I am no statistician, this strikes me as non-controversial and a confirmation of common sense. What Kaplan and Small are telling us is that those who perpetually lambaste Israel in the most intense terms possible, while giving every other country on the planet a pass, are statistically six times more likely to be anti-Semitic than those who do not hold such views.

Is anyone actually surprised at this finding?

2 comments:

  1. No, not sureprising.

    One might also expect that anti-Muslim sentiment tends to be higher in those who have animosty toward this or that, or several conutries that are largely Muslim, such as Palestine or Iran.

    On the other topic, Kurds often complain that Muslims have spent words and worth, tender lives and legal tender to stop the purported horrors of Israel, but have uttered nary a peep about the much worse treatment of fellow Muslim Kurds in Iraq over the years.

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  2. Hi J4,

    thanks for the response.

    While my main concern is the rise of anti-Zionism on the left, there is no question that anti-Muslim sentiment is high in the US, particularly since 9/11.

    But, yeah, you are right, there is also a tendency to ignore Muslim on Muslim violence, while focusing on the Evil that is Israel.

    It's a problem.

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