ADL Survey Shows Iran Least Anti-Semitic Middle East Country

by Marsha B. Cohen

The results of a new survey released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as deplorable as they are, show that Iran is the least anti-Semitic country in the Middle East.

Not that the ADL is doing anything to point this out in their just-released report entitled, Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism. This surprising fact can only be uncovered by comparing Iranian responses with those of other Middle Eastern countries.

According to the index scores of the more than 100 countries around the world included in the survey, the most anti-Semitic place on earth is the West Bank and Gaza (93%). Iraq isn’t far behind the Palestinian territories, which are, of course, under Israeli occupation. But Iran doesn’t even make it into the survey’s worldwide top 20 anti-Semitic hotspots.

The first of the eleven statements to which respondents were asked to categorize as “probably true” or “probably false” was Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/to the countries they live in]. While 56% of Iranians responded in the affirmative, in other MENA countries the percentage of respondents agreeing with this assertion were significantly higher:  Saudi Arabia 71%;  Lebanon 72%; Oman 76%; Egypt 78% Jordan 79%; Kuwait 80%; Qatar 80%; UAE 80%; Bahrain 81%; Yemen 81%; Iraq 83%; West Bank and Gaza 83%. (It’s too bad that Israel was not among the countries surveyed. It would be interesting to know what Israelis believe on this point.)

The other indicators of anti-Semitic attitudes were:

Jews have too much power in the business world. Iran  54%;  Saudi Arabia 69%; Oman 72%; Egypt 73%;  UAE 74%; Lebanon 76%; Qatar 75%;  Bahrain 78%;  Jordan 79%; Kuwait 79%; Yemen 82%; Iraq 84%; West Bank and Gaza 91%.

Jews have too much power in international financial markets. Iran  62%; Oman 68%; Egypt 69%;  Saudi Arabia 69%; UAE 71%; Qatar 71%; Jordan 76%;  Bahrain 76%; Lebanon 76%; Kuwait 77%; Yemen 78%; Iraq 85%; West Bank and Gaza 89%.

Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. Iran 18%; Yemen 16%; Saudi Arabia 22%; Egypt 23%; Kuwait 24%; Lebanon 26%; Jordan 29%;  Iraq 33%;  Oman 42%; UAE 45%; Bahrain 51%; Qatar 52%; West Bank and Gaza 64%.

Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind. Iran 50%; Egypt 68%; Oman 70%; Lebanon 71%; Kuwait 73%; UAE 73%; Saudi Arabia 74%; Jordan 75%;  Qatar 75%;  Bahrain 75%; Iraq 76%; Yemen 80%; West Bank and Gaza 84%.

Jews have too much control over global affairs. Iran 49%; Oman 67%; Saudi Arabia 70%; Egypt 71%; Qatar 73%; UAE 73%; Bahrain 76%; Iraq 77%; Lebanon 77%; Jordan 78%;  Kuwait 80%; Yemen 80%; West Bank and Gaza 88%.

Jews have too much control over the United States government: Iran 61%; Oman 67%; Saudi Arabia 70%; UAE 72%;  Jordan 73%; Lebanon 73%; Qatar 73%; Egypt 74%; Bahrain 77%; Kuwait 78%; Yemen 79%; Iraq 85%; West Bank and Gaza 85%.

Jews think they are better than other people: Iran 52%; Lebanon 61%; Egypt 66%;  Oman 66%; Qatar 67%;  Bahrain 68%; UAE 68%; Saudi Arabia 69%; Kuwait 71%; West Bank and Gaza 72%; Jordan 73%;  Yemen 76%; Iraq 80%.

Jews have too much control over the global media: Iran 55%; Bahrain 61%; Oman 65%; Egypt 69%;  Saudi Arabia 69%; Qatar 70%; UAE 70%; Kuwait 72%; Lebanon 73%; Iraq 77%; Jordan 77%; Yemen 79%; West Bank and Gaza 88%.

Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars: Iran  58%;   Qatar 64%;  Lebanon 65%; Oman 65%;   UAE 65%; Kuwait 66%; Saudi Arabia 66%; Egypt 66%; Jordan 67%;  Bahrain 71%; West Bank and Gaza 78%; Yemen 84%; Iraq 85%.

People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave: Iran  64%; Lebanon 76%; Bahrain 77%;  Kuwait 80%; Egypt 81%; Oman 81%; Iraq 81%: Saudi Arabia 81%; Qatar 82%; UAE 82%; Jordan 84%;  West Bank and Gaza 87%; Yemen 90%.

Iran has a complicated relationship with its Jewish community, and has a long way to go before it can be considered a safe haven for Jews, even if some Persian Jews may disagree. Still, the ADL’s data makes it clear that Iran is not only the least anti-Semitic country in its region, it also scores far better on every one of the ADL’s eleven survey indicators by a statistically significant margin. That’s something worth thinking about.

Photo: Persian Jews celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in a Tehran synagogue last October. Credit: CNN screenshot.

Marsha B. Cohen

Marsha B. Cohen is an analyst specializing in Israeli-Iranian relations and US foreign policy towards Iran and Israel. Her articles have been published by PBS/Frontline's Tehran Bureau. IPS, Alternet, Payvand and Global Dialogue. She earned her PhD in International Relations from Florida International University, and her BA in Political Philosophy from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.



  1. No, Iranians don’t hate Jews at all. Even the clerics. If you tell them that you are Jewish they will do their best to show you that “they can distinguish between Judaism and Zionism”, as they put it. They look at Israel as a “state” rather than a “Jewish state”. And they perceive it to be an “oppressive” state and that is the root cause of their negative attitude toward Israel. It doesn’t have anything to do with any religion.

  2. As a Palestinian, I find the survey plain dumb. The questions in the survey may indicate “antisemitism” but it discards the conditions which leads to such beliefs. When the Palestinian economy is depended on Israeli authorities which is overwhelmingly Jewish then of course they are going to think that Jews have way too much power because in there world a seventeen year old can determine whether or not a Palestinian can get medical treatment or deliver a baby in the hospital. The ADL survey is just a propaganda piece that is devoid of any critical analysis.

  3. Iranian Jews have stayed and lived in Persia(Iran) from the time of
    Cyrus the Grate and when Israeli government offered substantial cash
    to encourage them to migrate to Israel, they refused. They have total
    freedom, and engaged in economic sector of the country.

  4. Dear Marsha, Awsome work! As an Iranian, I am not surprised of the result. As you know, Iran is very multifaceted society and diverse ….For thousands of years we as Moslem, an Armanian, an Assyrian, an atheist, a Jewish, a Zoroastrian, and … lived and living side by side and formed Iranian culture, language, national identity. Iranian are peace loving peoples that have no hate against any ones or any peoples. It does not means that as a nation we have no problems or not critical of the Islamic Republic but our national security, solidarity is cardinal to our national unity. Thank you for your work and ADL. keep up with your future good work. Regards.

Comments are closed.