17% of New Zealanders know nothing about the Holocaust -survey

March 31, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Known as the oldest form of racism, a new study about the views of New Zealanders towards Jewish people shows concerning levels of antisemitism in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

The Antisemitism Survey of New Zealand 2021 was conducted by Curia Research and put 18 internationally recognised statements to just over one thousand New Zealanders to measure antisemitism sentiment.

It found that 63% of New Zealanders agree with at least one antisemitic view and 6% hold nine or more antisemitic views out of the 18 questions posed to quantify antisemitic views.

Former New Zealand Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman wrote the foreword for the survey which follows a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in New Zealand in the past few years.

“This survey shows that classic antisemitism has re-emerged – particularly during the pandemic – as Holocaust denial and has become conflated with conspiracy theories and alt-right politics.

“Another recent trend is the global emergence of left-wing antisemitism. While most forms of discrimination are unacceptable in progressive thinking, antisemitism does not seem to count as racism because Jews can be accused of ‘white privilege’ and hatred can be hidden under a cloak of Zionophobia, or anti-Israel sentiment.

“History tells us that whenever societal cohesion breaks down or is at risk, antisemitic attitudes, memes and actions soon surface,” Sir Peter Gluckman says.

The survey was undertaken on behalf of the New Zealand Jewish Council with funding from the Ministry of Ethnic Communities.

Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses says it shows some New Zealanders still believe in stubborn and dangerous myths, or tropes, about Jewish people.

“About one in five New Zealanders, or 17%, believe Jews have too much power in international financial markets, and one in 10 believe Jews have too much control over the global media.

“This survey is an important tool in exposing these alarming beliefs. These falsehoods make Jewish communities a target when people are looking to lay blame for tough times.

“History has taught us this hatred doesn’t stop at Jewish communities. It spreads to other ethnic communities,” Juliet Moses says.

The survey also asked about New Zealanders’ understanding of what occurred during the Holocaust.

Of those surveyed only 42% could correctly identify that six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust. One fifth, or 17%, said they knew virtually nothing about the Holocaust.

Holocaust Centre of New Zealand chair Deborah Hart says the survey shows the need for Holocaust education.

“This survey represents the views of everyday New Zealanders. We recently saw an extreme side of this lack of understanding in the gross misuse of Holocaust references at the protest at Parliament.

“If people understand what the Holocaust actually was, it is a significant buffer against the rise of antisemitism and other forms of racism that can lead to genocide.  Holocaust education is a safeguard for civil society. Deborah Hart says.

Wellington Jewish Council chair and one of the founders of the National Interfaith Forums, David Zwartz, says the survey offers a solution to racism.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, it found that warmth towards ethnic and religious groups increases when people personally know a member of that community.

“The simplest way to fight racism is to get to know each other and do things together. When communities understand each other, they build trust and are able to put their judgements aside. They can embrace their similarities as well as their differences.

Juliet Moses says the Jewish Council thanks the Ministry for Ethnic Communities for their support, pointing out that such a survey has important lessons for all Aotearoa New Zealand’s minority ethnic and religious communities, not just the Jews.

“Many New Zealanders may be surprised to learn the Muslim and Jewish communities have had a close relationship for many years and the 2019 Mosque attacks brought us even closer together. Trust and understanding are the most powerful antidotes to racism,” Juliet Moses says.



2 Responses to “17% of New Zealanders know nothing about the Holocaust -survey”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Its all on Wikipedia anyway.

  2. michael kuttner says:

    Based on my many years of past interfaith and Israel advocacy I would suggest that 17% holocaust ignorance is on the very low side. A similar survey of high school students would show an appallingly higher ignorance percentage with consequently higher belief in Jewish conspiracy theories. This situation will get worse unless and until the NZ Educational authorities institute compulsory holocaust studies into the history curriculum of all high schools. It also means of course that there will need to be a sufficient number of teachers able to teach the subject. This is where the Auckland and Wellington Holocaust centers can provide training but it will have to be mandated not voluntary. If the NZ Govt authorities do not take this seriously why should the majority of schools do so?

    Furthermore as social media is spreading anti Jewish/Israel lies and with teens as well as adults relying on that for their information rather than reading books and resourcing facts the battle becomes harder. As survivors die access to recorded testimonies from the Spielberg Foundation etc. becomes a critical resource.

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