(January 30, 2020 / Jewish Journal) According to a study released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday, 61 percent of Americans believe at least one anti-Semitic stereotype.
The survey, conducted from Oct. 12-16, 2019, among 800 American 18 and older, asked respondents if they agreed with 11 statements containing anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as “Jews are more loyal to America” and “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Sixty-one percent said they agreed with at least one of the 11 statements; 39 percent said they agreed with at least two statements; and 11 percent agreed with six or more.
The most prevalent stereotype was “Jews stick together more than most Americans” (44 percent), followed by “Jews like to be at the head of things” (25 percent) and “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America” (24 percent).
The statements have been used as benchmarks for the ADL’s survey since 1964. At that time, 29 percent believed in six or more of the 11 statements. In 2015, that number was 14.
“While the decline [in anti-Semitic beliefs] over the past 55 years should be celebrated, the current share still translates to more than 28 million Americans,” the ADL wrote in its analysis. “In recent years, there has been a surge of anti-Semitic incidents, including violent crimes, even as overall anti-Semitic attitudes remain low. It is a stark reminder that it only takes a small number committing violence to create an epidemic.”
Outside of the 11 statements, the ADL also found that 27 percent of American adults believe that Jews killed Jesus, 19 percent believe that Jews discuss the Holocaust too much, and 17 percent believe that Jews mainly control Hollywood.
ADL Los Angeles regional director Amanda Susskind told the Jewish Journal that the fact that 19 percent of respondents think Jews discuss the Holocaust too much is an issue because “as time passes from the Holocaust, more and more people are disconnected with the lessons from the Holocaust.”
The ADL also asked if respondents believed in criticisms of Israel that fall under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
The ADL stated, “We found that roughly one-in-six polled (16 percent) agreed with the statement that Israel’s record on human rights ‘is worse than most other countries’ and around one-in-seven (14 percent) agreed with the statement that the Israeli government ‘sometimes behaves as badly as the Nazis.’ Some 7 percent of Americans said that American Jews are responsible for Israel’s actions, and 8 percent expressed support for boycotting Israeli products and companies.”
On the matter of violence, 57 percent of Americans said they were either somewhat or very concerned about violence leveled against Jews.
“We’ve been horrified by an uptick in anti-Semitic violence,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “Our research finds that this uptick is being caused not by a change in attitudes among most Americans. Rather, more of the millions of Americans holding these views are feeling emboldened to act on their hate.”
Susskind said the ADL’s yearly audits have shown increases in anti-Semitic assaults, and that one factor was anti-Semitic hate circulating on the Internet. She pointed to white nationalists live streaming shootings as a means of inspiring copycats as an example.“We didn’t see that three years ago or six years ago,” she said.
Susskind also argued that the current divisive political discourse and politicization of anti-Semitism has exacerbated anti-Semitic violence.
“The few that are infected with this hate are feeling there will be fewer consequences to acting out on it,” she said.
The ADL recommended a series of policy prescriptions for Congress to crack down on anti-Semitic violence, including the Never Again Education Act that provides funding to schools for Holocaust education (which passed the House of Representatives on Jan. 27) and to allocate funding toward security for religious institutions and nonprofits.
“Anti-Semitism as a problem in society tends to be a precursor to bigger societal decline, so it’s something to constantly be aware of and monitoring,” Susskind said.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.
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