New survey finds antisemitic views are widespread in America

At times in the past half-century, many American experts on anti-Semitism have thought that this country may be aging, that hostility and prejudice against Jews is fading in part because younger Americans hold more accepting views than older ones.

But a study released Thursday shows how widespread such beliefs are in the United States today, including among younger Americans. The Anti-Defamation League’s investigation includes rare details about the particular nature of anti-Semitism, how it centers on tropes of Jews as clannish, conspiratorial, and power-bearing.

The survey shows that “anti-Semitism in its classic fascist form is re-emerging in American society where Jews are too secretive and powerful, work against the interests of others, do not share values, exploit—the classic conspiracy tropes,” Matt Williams, ADL Vice President of the Year -old Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, told The Washington Post.

The study uses a new version of research the ADL has been doing in America since the 1960s to understand the specific nature of anti-Semitism and what makes it different from other kinds of hatred. Its new metric focuses on confirming or disproving 14 statements, including whether Jews: “have too much control and influence on Wall Street,” “are more likely than others to use shady practices to get what they want,” or are “so clever that other people don’t have a fair chance.”

The ADL center was created in response to a spike over the past few years in reported incidents of anti-Semitic violence and harassment, as well as an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric from high-profile public figures.

This includes a 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville that turned deadly, and attacks on Jewish targets in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Poway, California, and Monsey, New York in 2019. It also includes anti-Semitic comments, including by former President Donald Trump in October, when he attacked American Jews in a post on his Truth Social platform, saying that Jews in the United States needed to “get their act together” and show more appreciation for the state of Israel “before it happened too late”. Trump has repeatedly brought up the old anti-Semitic trope that American Jews hold, or should hold, a secret or dual loyalty to Israel rather than to or in addition to the United States. Almost 4 out of 10 Americans believe it is largely or somewhat true that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America,” according to ADL researchers. In the fall, rapper and designer Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, said that Jews exploit black people for financial gain, that African-Americans are the legitimate descendants of the Jews of the Bible, and that there is a certain “financial engineering” to being Jewish.

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The study found that about 7 10 in Americans believe that Jews stick together more than other Americans, and that more than a third believe that Jews do not share values ​​and “like to be in charge”. About 1 in 5 believe Jews have too much power in the United States today, don’t care what happens to others, and are more likely than other Americans to use “shady practices to get what they want.”

It is difficult to assess whether anti-Semitic views have increased over time, given the changes in the survey’s response options, as well as how respondents were sampled. The survey was conducted in September and October among a national sample of 4,007 adults online through AmeriSpeak, a randomly selected group of American households supported by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Williams and some experts who helped review the survey noted that it shows that the views of Americans under 30 and those of Americans over 30 are very similar. Of Americans ages 18 to 30, 18 percent said six or more of statements are true, while among those 31 and older, 20 percent are. Among younger Americans, 39 percent believe two to five statements, while among the older group, 41 percent did.

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“Older Americans used to hold more anti-Semitic views. The hypothesis was that anti-Semitism declined in the 1990s and 2000s because there was this new generation of more tolerant people. This shows that younger people are now much closer to what older people think. My hypothesis is that there is a cultural shift, perhaps fueled by technology and social media. The gap is disappearing,” said Ilana Horwitz, one of the study’s reviewers and an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Tulane University.

What’s most interesting is the “prevalence” of anti-Semitic tropes the study shows, Horwitz said. Even the fact that 3 percent of Americans say everything of the initial claims are “mostly or somewhat true” is troubling, she said.

Three percent of all American adults are just under 8 million people — well over 5.8 million American adults who say they are Jewish.

“I like to tell my students: Kanye has more followers on Instagram than there are Jews in the world. So the extent to which Americans seem to believe these conspiracy views about Jews is alarming,” she said. Ye has more than 18 million followers on Instagram alone.

He painted a mural of Kanye West. Then a rabbi called.

The new research also delves into the differences between belief in anti-Jewish tropes and negative sentiments toward Israel and its supporters.

“One of the findings of this report is that anti-Semitism in that classic, conspiratorial sense is far more prevalent than anti-Israel sentiment,” Williams said.

The report highlights that 90 percent of Americans agree that Israel “has the right to defend itself against those who want to destroy it” and that 79 percent agree that Israel is “a strong US ally in the Middle East.” However, 40 the percentage at least a little agree that Israel “treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews,” and 17 percent disagreed with the statement “I’m comfortable spending time with people who openly support Israel.

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Alan Cooperman, director of the study of religion at the Pew Research Center and adviser to the ADL project, said Judaism’s long history includes periods of ebb and flow in anti-Semitism — sometimes long.

He noted that in 2013, Pew gathered a dozen or more top experts on American Judaism for a survey and asked about their priorities and which areas needed more information and attention. The consensus at the time was that anti-Semitism was at an all-time low in the United States and that, although it still existed, it was not a pressing problem. When Pew spoke to experts in 2020, their attitudes were “a complete shift. They told us that anti-Semitism is a very pressing problem and we need to devote a lot of attention to understanding it.

A majority of American Jews told Pew in 2020 that anti-Semitism had increased in the past five years, and a slim majority said they personally felt less secure.

Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism at Indiana University Bloomington, said anti-Semitism never goes away, but transforms in its own unique way.

In the West, there are ancient roots in Christian teachings about the Jews as satanic killers of Christ. In modern times, “religious bias is giving way to racial notions of Jewish inferiority or superiority,” he said, noting that this year is the 120th anniversary of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an influential document that falsely purports to be a Jewish plan for world peace. dominance.

Then came Holocaust denial and the kinds of criticism of Israel that are anti-Semitic.

“So the ‘new’ anti-Semitism goes back a long time. Accusations of a Jewish conspiracy, Jews in control of the media, politics, entertainment, the world of money all go back a long way. Today, it’s multi-factorial,” Rosenfeld said. “When hatred is so diverse, it is more powerful and dangerous.”

Polling analyst Emily Guskin contributed to this report.


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