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Anti-Semitism: Background on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

Background on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

The Holocaust was the largest manifestation of anti-Semitism in recent history. When we speak about the Holocaust today, powerful and horrific images come to mind. We are reminded of the horrors which Jews and other persecuted groups faced: forced labor, starvation, humiliation, and torture which often resulted in death. We see the systematic effort to wipe out an entire population from the face of the earth. We see everyday people turning their backs on neighbors and friends in their plea for help. And we see the collective spirit of the world ignoring these atrocities and denying any responsibility for their outcome.

Though attitudes towards Jews have come a long way since the mid-19th Century, anti-Semitism is still present in our world today. A nationwide survey released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in November 2007 shows that the number of Americans who hold anti-Semitic attitudes has held constant since their previous survey, released on April 4, 2005. This survey showed a slight decline in the number of Americans who held anti-Semitic attitudes, from its 2002 findings.

The 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, a national poll of 1,600 American adults conducted by the ADL, found that 14% of Americans hold views about Jews that are "unquestionably anti-Semitic," compared to 17% in 2002. Previous ADL surveys over the last decade had also indicated that anti-Semitism was in decline.

In 2014 and 2015, the ADL conducted a survey of worldwide anti-Semitic attitudes. The ADL Global 100 surveyed over 100 countries, encompassing nearly 86% of the world's population, and found that 1.09 billion people hold anti-Semitic attitudes and that 35% of people have never heard of the Holocaust.