ADL survey of anti-Semitism: Bulgaria worse than Eastern Europe average

Eastern Europe ranks second among the world’s regions in anti-Semitic attitudes, and Bulgaria is worse than the average, scoring 44 per cent against the region’s 34 per cent in a global survey that found that more a billion people worldwide were infected with anti-Semitism.

The unprecedented worldwide survey was done by the Anti-Defamation League among 53 100 adults in 102 countries and territories in an effort to establish, for the first time, a comprehensive data-based research survey of the level and intensity of anti-Jewish sentiment across the world.

Shockingly, the survey found that only 54 per cent of those polled globally had ever heard of the Holocaust.

The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism found that anti-Semitic attitudes are persistent and pervasive around the world.

More than one in four adults, 26 per cent of those surveyed, are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes. This figure represents an estimated 1.09 billion people around the world.

The overall ADL Global 100 Index score represents the per centage of respondents who answered “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews.

An 11-question index has been used by ADL as a key metric in measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States for the last 50 years.

“For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

“The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hotspots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially non-existent.”

Made possible by a generous grant from the New York philanthropist Leonard Stern, the ADL Global 100 Index constitutes the most comprehensive assessment ever of anti-Semitic attitudes globally, encompassing 102 countries and territories in seven major regions of the world and accounting for about 88 per cent of the world’s total adult population.

Available through an interactive web site at, the survey also ranks countries and territories in numerical order from the least anti-Semitic (Laos, at 0.2 per cent of the adult population) to the most (West Bank and Gaza, where anti-Semitic attitudes, at 93 per cent, are pervasive throughout society).

“The level of anti-Semitism in some countries and regions, even those where there are no Jews, is in many instances shocking,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair.

“We hope this unprecedented effort to measure and gauge anti-Semitic attitudes globally will serve as a wake-up call to governments, to international institutions and to people of conscience that anti-Semitism is not just a relic of history, but a current event.”

At the same time, there are highly encouraging notes in the ADL survey.

In majority English-speaking countries, the per centage of those with anti-Semitic attitudes is 13 per cent, far lower than the overall average. Protestant majority countries in general have the lowest ratings of anti-Semitic attitudes, as compared to any other majority religious country.

And 28 per cent of respondents around the world do not believe that any of the 11 anti-Semitic stereotypes tested are “probably true.”

Respondents were asked a series of 11 questions based on age-old stereotypes about Jews, including classical stereotypes about Jewish power, loyalty, money and behaviour.

Those who responded affirmatively to six or more negative statements about Jews are considered to hold anti-Semitic attitudes. The margin of error for most countries, where 500 respondents were selected, was +/- 4.4 per cent. In various larger countries, where 1000 interviews were conducted, the margin of error was +/- 3.2 per cent.

In Bulgaria, the leading stereotype was that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” with 67 per cent of those polled saying that the stereotype was “probably true”.

Forty-eight per cent believed that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to Bulgaria, 64 per cent that Jews have too much power in international financial markets, 59 per cent that Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust, 40 per cent that Jews do not care about what happens to anyone but their own kind, 49 per cent that Jews have too much control over global affairs, 44 per cent that Jews think they are better than other people and 21 per cent that Jews are responsible for the world’s wars.

Thirty-six per cent of those surveyed in Bulgaria thought it was “probably true” that Jews have too much control over the global media.

In Bulgaria, 28 per cent of those surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust.

Of those who had heard of the Holocaust, one per cent of those polled in Bulgaria said that it was a myth and had never happened, 25 per cent said that the number of Jews who had died had been greatly exaggerated, 65 per cent that the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust had been fairly described by history and 10 per cent recorded a “don’t know”.

To the question, “Jews are just like everyone else,” 76 per cent of Bulgarians polled said that they agreed. But forty-eight per cent said that a lot of people that they knew had negative attitudes to Jews.

Among the major findings worldwide of the ADL Global 100 Index:

  • More than one-quarter of those surveyed, 26 per cent, harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, representing an estimated 1.09 billion adults around the world;
  • Only 54 per cent of those polled globally have ever heard of the Holocaust. Two out of three people surveyed have either never heard of the Holocaust, or do not believe historical accounts to be accurate.
  • The most widely accepted anti-Semitic stereotype worldwide is: “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.”  Overall, 41 per cent of those surveyed believe this statement to be “probably true.”  This is the most widely accepted stereotype in five out of the seven regions surveyed.
  • The second most widely accepted stereotype worldwide is “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Overall, 35 per cent of those surveyed believe this statement to be “probably true.”  This is also the most widely held stereotype in Eastern Europe.
  • Among the 74 per cent of those surveyed who indicated they had never met a Jewish person, 25 per cent harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.  Of the 26 per cent overall who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, 70 per cent have never met a Jewish person.
  • Three out of 10 respondents, 30 per cent, believe Jews make up between one to 10 per cent of the world’s population. Another 18 per cent believe Jews make up more than 10 per cent of the world’s population. Sixteen per cent responded less than one per cent. (The actual number of Jewish people as a per centage of the world’s population is 0.19 per cent).

When it comes to Holocaust awareness, while only 54 per cent of those polled had heard of the Holocaust — a disturbingly low number — the numbers were far better in Western Europe, where 94 per cent of those polled were aware of the history,” Foxman said.

At the same time, the results confirm a troubling gap between older adults who know their history and younger men and women who, more than 70 years after the events of World War 2, are more likely to have never heard of or learned about what happened to the six million Jews who perished.”

Curtiss-Lusher added: “We are especially troubled that the stereotypes about Jews which received the most support worldwide were those generating dangerous political anti-Semitism, including the beliefs that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries, that Jews have too much power in the business world, or that Jews have too much influence in finance.

“These stereotypes are fuelled by conspiracy theories on the Internet, and in some countries it is still politically expedient to scapegoat and blame Jews for social, economic and political ills by accusing them of having ‘dual loyalties’ or even of being a foreign enemy in their midst.”

Nearly half of all Muslims surveyed around the world responded “probably true” to at least six of the 11 index stereotypes in the ADL Global 100.

Likewise, Christians in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic countries are more likely to harbour anti-Semitic views than those in Protestant countries.

ADL commissioned First International Resources to conduct the poll of attitudes and opinions toward Jews.

Fieldwork and data collection for this global public opinion project were conducted and coordinated by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

The data was culled from interviews conducted between July 2013 and February 2014 in 96 languages and dialects via landline telephones, mobile phones and face-to-face discussions.

Respondents were selected at random and constituted a demographically representative sample of the adult populations.

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The long, long history of Bulgaria and the Jews
Review: Bulgarian television makes a brave start to telling the story of those who defied the Holocaust
Bulgaria and Macedonia in diverse commemorations of Holocaust-related anniversaries
A nation that showed courage’: Bulgaria and the Jews
Parliament adopts declaration on 70th anniversary of prevention of deportation of Bulgarian Jews to Holocaust death camps
Borissov on bloodshed, Tsvetanov on freedom and Siderov on ‘the so-called Holocaust’
Holocaust denier sent to see for himself
Honour for rescuers of Jews as International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013 marked – but concern at anti-Semitism in Europe
International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Eastern Europe: Memory recent and distant
Record interest in Nazi Holocaust Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

(Photo of Sofia Central Synagogue: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.