When the NY Times brought in TimesSelect a while ago, I was really grateful that I didn’t have to read Thomas Friedman anymore. But last July, they gave free access to the whole site for a week or so and I came across this lame article on academic freedom by one Stanley Fish, a bigshot academic in
Apparently they’ve given him a weekly column where he can display his ignorance and prejudice, because he wrote in his column, Is it good for the Jews? on Monday,
I can imagine a time in the not-so-distant future when American Jews might feel precarious once again. There is a certain irrationality to this imagining, given that at this moment, I am sitting in a very nice house in
Half his luck! And of course it’s not unusual for the Times to take on some real…well, commentators, Friedman himself not least among them. I remember being scandalised when they gave William Safire a weekly column ‘On language’ where he proceeded to enunciate opinions as backward and uninformed as his political views.
Anyway, Fish reckons that there are grounds for him to fear anti-Semitism, as if he were trying to lend credibility to Atzmon’s ‘pretraumatic stress disorder’ theory.
The war was a huge mistake and is causing us no end of trouble at home and in the world at large. The lobby that led us into it is a de facto agent for a foreign government —
Well, it turns out, he claims, that there is empirical evidence that this is wrong.
Charles Small and his Yale colleague Edward Kaplan have recently published an article in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the title of which also tells its own story: ‘Anti-Isr
Christian was kind enough to secure me a copy of Kaplan and Small’s paper (subscription required). It does indeed find a correlation between what the authors are pleased to describe as ‘extreme anti-Isr
Now one thing about statistics is it doesn’t matter how clever or sophisticated your methods if the basic data are bogus or if you ask the wrong questions of the data. Kaplan and Small are quite up front about the questions asked in the Anti Defamation League (ADL) survey that they are reanalysing for their paper and about their analytical methods. As they should be.
This first thing you notice in their paper is that they start from certain assumptions. For example, in their very first paragraph they quote London Mayor Ken Livingston’s assertion, ‘
According to the Isr
But of course that’s not the point. The point is that Kaplan and Small have joined the chorus alleging that critics single out Isr
But there’s another factor at work. As I’ve mentioned before, the Egyptian government does not purport to lock up its political opponents on my behalf. The Isr
Now the syntax of that sentence leaves it ambiguous whether it’s ‘Many Isr
The second thing you notice is the presumption they mention, that
Presumably, those with anti-Semitic leanings would be more likely to espouse anti-Isr
It’s easy to see how anyone would make this association and presume as they do –
As discussed earlier, presumably those with anti-Semitic views are more likely to oppose a Jewish state than others…
The ‘earlier’ discussion they refer to is the very passage I just quoted. There, they wrote of ‘anti-Isr
The third thing is the indicators on the basis of which they derive their concept of ‘extreme anti-Isr
- The Isr
aeli treatment of the Palestinians is similar to ’s treatment of blacks during apartheid. (agree a lot) South Africa
- Who do you think is more responsible for the past three years of violence in
Isr, the ael West Bankand the Gaza Strip, the Isr aelis, or the Palestinians? ( ) Isr ael
- In your opinion, during military activities inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, do the Isr
aeli Defense Forces intentionally target Palestinian civilians, or are civilian casualties an accidental outcome of ’s military response? (IDF intentionally target civilians) Isr ael
· In your opinion, is there any justification for Palestinian suicide bombers that target Isr
Now the third question doesn’t really belong here at all, because it’s not a matter of opinion whether dropping a 500lb bomb on a block of flats to kill one ‘suspected militant’, or shelling a beach where families are picnicking, or lobbing 155mm rounds at a residential building at 4:00 in the morning deliberately target civilians. I suppose some might entertain some doubt as to whether the victims of extrajudicial executions, or ‘targeted assassinations’ as they are denominated in mainstream media speak, are civilians, but since they don’t get to defend themselves in court, we can’t know that, can we? On reflection though, maybe it’s just as useful as the other three questions in detecting extreme pro Isr
In my view, apart from the third, these are not bad questions to determine attitudes to Isr
By selecting the indicators they have to detect ‘extreme anti-Isr
What they correlate this with is an ‘anti-Semitism index’ (ASI) based on the number of statements the respondents agreed (in the case of the eleventh, disagreed) with:
- Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
- Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.
- Jews are more loyal to
than to this country. Isr ael
- Jews have too much power in the business world.
- Jews have lots of irritating faults.
- Jews stick together more than other (CITIZENS OF RESPONDENT’S COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE).
- Jews always like to be at the head of things.
- Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
- Jews have too much power in our country today.
- Jewish business people are so shrewd that others do not have a fair chance to compete.
· Jews are just as honest as other business people.
Again, these seem like plausible indicators of antisemtism, although I can think of better ones, for example:
- I would hire a Jew if they were the most suitable candidate for a job.
- I would rent a residential property to a Jew.
- Jews should not be restricted to certain residential neighbourhoods.
- Jews should not be restricted to certain occupations.
· I would be happy for my child to marry a Jew.
But we can only go by what the ADL survey actually asked. And if a respondent agreed with more than five of those statements they count as anti-Semitic.
The fourth interesting fact we notice is that of the 5004 respondents across ten European countries, only 14% did so. That is, 702 respondents agreed with six or more of those statements. In the publication itself, however, I would have liked to see an ordinary table correlating each anti-Semitism indicator with each ‘anti-Isr
Only 9 percent of those with anti-Isr
And even though there are correlations with factors like age, sex, income, religion, etc., these do not perturb this basic correlation – the more ‘anti-Isr
A spreadsheet with the full dataset is available on the Sage site without a subscsription. So I did a little analysis of my own. While it is quite true that just over 56% of those with an AII of 4 recorded an ASI greater than 5, Kaplan and Small don’t mention that the total number with an AII of 4 is 57, or just 1.14% of the sample of 5004. When the numbers get that small, questions of accuracy start to arise.
Returning to the issue I raised before about the validity of the question about whether Isr
One of the things that’s missing from the analysis is the correlation between the two indices – Kaplan and Small, following ADL practice, have divided the twelve point anti-Semitism index scale into just two categories, anti-Semitic (6-11) and non anti-Semitic (0-5). They report that they did this analysis, but don’t provide the details.
…as a check on the sensitivity of our results to the specific cutoff employed in operationalizing anti-Semitism (anti-Semitic index values in excess of 5), we also explored ordered logistic models that estimate the probability a respondent reports any particular level of the anti-Semitic index (rather than only index values in excess of 5 or not). These more complex models did not lead to any important differences from the results described earlier…
The reason this is taking so long to post is that I had to download some statistical analysis software and start learning to use it. Anyway, here is the cross tabulation of ASI by AII.
Another thing that’s missing is the reverse of what they report. We know that 9% of those with an AII of 0 are anti-Semitic, 12% of those with an AII of 1, and so forth. But we don’t know what proportion of those with such and such an ASI are ‘anti-Isr
Using the data in the table, it turns out that 30% of those with an ASI over 5 also have an AII of 0 and another 29% have an AII of 1. The correlation still holds, because the corresponding proportions for those with an ASI under 6 are 49% and 33%, but it’s not as impressive from this angle.
Looking at the 186 persons (3.7% of the sample) with the very highest anti-Semitic indices, those who agreed with 9, 10, or all 11 of the eleven indicator statements, the plurality, just over 25% (47) still had an antiIsr
Partly because they did not report this kind of analysis, the authors conclude,
It is noteworthy that fewer than one-quarter of those with anti-Isr
First of all, while the ‘fewer than one quarter’ statement is strictly true, they could have expressed it more clearly. It is most accurate of the population with an AII of 2, 22.4% of whom meet their definition of anti-Semitic. Only 12.4% of those with an AII of 1 and 15.5% of the total with AII or 1 or 2 come up anti-Semitic.
More importantly, in reality, it is not at all reasonable to ask whether criticism of
It might be worth pointing out that Isr
75 percent of Jewish students believe that Arabs are uneducated people, are uncivilized and are unclean…69 percent of the Jewish students think that Arabs are not smart…75 percent of Jewish students feel Arabs are violent…75 percent of Arab students showed willingness to meet with Jewish students as opposed to less than 50 percent willingness amongst Jewish students.
Another survey of Israeli Jews found,
68 percent of respondents said they do not wish to live next to an Arab neighbor, compared with 26 percent who said they would agree….46 percent said they would not be willing to have Arab friends who would visit them at their home. Some 63 percent of the Jewish public sees Arab civilians as a security and demographic threat, and 34 percent of the Jewish public sees Arab culture as inferior compared to Isr
…and 40 percent believe that the State should encourage Arabs to emigrate from the country.
As for American Jews, the American Jewish Committee’s ‘2006 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion’ conducted September 25 – October 16, 2006 revealed that 81% agreed with the statement ‘The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Isr
Getting back to Fish, as he reads it,
Small and Kaplan are careful to disclaim any causal implications that might be drawn from their analysis: they are not saying that anti-Semitism produces opposition to Isr
Of course it suggests nothing of the kind. It’s not out of the question, but bear in mind that we’re generalising on the basis of 32 people here. Isr
Meanwhile, a small but increasing proportion of Jews is speaking out against the worst of the atrocities in the occupied territories, as evidenced in the British Independent Jewish Voices and Independent Australian Jewish Voices initiatives and organisations like Jewish Voice for Peace in the
Should American Jews be apprehensive? Well Kaplan and Small analysed 2004 data from ten European countries. There is no way of knowing whether analysis of similar data for the
What we do know, is that a Gallup poll conducted just last month revealed 58% of Americans, when asked, ‘In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Isr
At the same time, ‘sympathies’ for the Palestinians are higher than ever at 20%. Related data show 63% of Americans reported ‘favorable views’ of Isr
A BBC poll just released shows that, when asked about twelve countries (actually, half were asked about 6, and half about the other six), ‘Please tell me if you think each of the following are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world’, among 28,389 respondents in 27 countries, with 56% attributing a negative influence, Isr
When broken down by country of respondent,
‘A certain irrationality’? I’ll say.