Category: Cultural Commentary Written by Jim Denison
Forty-six percent of the planet's population has never heard of the Holocaust. A third of those who have believe it is a myth or exaggeration. As a result, only 33 percent of the world is aware of the Holocaust and believes it has been accurately described by history.
The Anti-Defamation League discovered this data when it recently polled 53,000 adults in 102 countries, representing 88.4 percent of the world's adult population. According to their surveys, 1.09 billion adults worldwide are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes. That's one in four. Not surprisingly, anti-Semitism is worst in the Middle East and North Africa, where 74 percent of the population harbors antagonism toward the Jews.
Anti-Semitism is lowest in the Americas (19 percent) and Oceania (14 percent). However, these numbers are still far too high. If there is good news, it is that the more people know Jews, the less anti-Semitic they are. Where there is a larger Jewish population, 22 percent are anti-Semitic; where there is a smaller Jewish population, the number rises to 28 percent. Of the 26 percent who are considered anti-Semitic, 70 percent have never actually met a Jewish person.
On a recent study tour in Israel, I was asked by a participant why I thought the Jews have faced such prejudice over the centuries. On the face of it, we wouldn't expect their race to be so persecuted. They have never exceeded 3.5 percent of the American population, but have produced 37 percent of our Nobel Laureates. The Jewish people have long been on the forefront of economic advance. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and our best friend in this vitriolic part of the world.
Why, then, is anti-Semitism on the rise? The lower my self-image, the more I need to disparage you to elevate myself. If I can claim that an unchanging fact such as skin color or race grants me superior status, all the better. But when I base my self-esteem on the unconditional love of God, I can see people as God does.
What can we do? First, let's examine our own hearts. Have you asked the Holy Spirit to show you any prejudice in your spirit?
Second, let's find ways to work with people from different demographics. Social psychologists note the importance of shared goals. When people of different races or demographics work together to accomplish a mutual vision, they are more likely to transcend their prejudices. Put people in a circle and tell them to become unified, and they'll be confused. But place a chair in the middle and ask them to walk toward it—the closer they get to the chair, the closer they'll get to each other.
Third, let's pray for the persecuted around the world and especially for "the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). I pray daily for military and economic peace for Israel, and especially for spiritual awakening in this ancient land. The Apostle Paul testified, "my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1).
Do you agree?