Americans Still Believe Antisemitic Stereotypes

New survey finds that even with Trump in office, a worrying number of Americans still believe old antisemitic tropes.

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: Antisemitism
Americans continue to believe debunked antisemitic tropes.
Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90

A new survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that 28 million Americans hold firmly established antisemitic views. The survey also found that a fourth of Americans view Jewish people as being more loyal to Israel than to the United States, and 19 percent think that “Jews still talk too much” about the Holocaust.

At the height of the worst outbreak of antisemitism in recent decades, the survey revealed that more than half of US adults (61 percent) believe one or more antisemitic stereotypes. At the same time, a much lower percentage actively adhere to significant antisemitic views. ADL surveys over the past 25 years have consistently shown that just 11-14 percent of Americans belong in that latter, more dangerous category.


Millions believe antisemitic stereotypes

The latest survey of American attitudes towards Jews conducted by the ADL shows that antisemitic tropes have remained prevalent at a similar rate throughout the years since beginning this survey in 1964. The new survey shows that 11 percent of American adults, translating to more than 28 million people, believe in six or more antisemitic stereotypes out of 11 that were presented to them. Old antisemitic stereotypes and tropes such as “Jewish control” of business and finances, as well as Jews having “dual-loyalty” (more loyal to Israel than their country of origin), remain significantly widespread.

The ADL survey that was published immediately following the International Holocaust Remembrance Day found that one out of every five Americans (19 percent) believe that “Jewish people still speak too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” This finding is extremely worrying in light of recent research indicating that Americans are becoming less aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust as time passes. This year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.


Central findings of the survey

Jewish disloyalty is a prevalent antisemitic trope. Twenty-four percent of Americans agree with the statement that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States.”

Stereotypes about Jewish control of business and the financial markets are some of the most enduring and virulent antisemitic tropes.

Fifteen percent are of the opinion that Jews have too much power in the business world, and 10 percent agreed with the statement that “Jews are more willing than others to commit devious acts in order to get what they want.” Nearly one third of the survey’s participants (31 percent) noted that Jewish employers go out of their way to hire other Jews, and 17 percent expressed the opinion that “the movie and TV industry is highly controlled by Jews.”

The historical myths regarding Jews are still prominent. Twenty-seven percent answered that they believe that Jews killed Jesus.

Another characteristic of antisemitism includes anti-Israel claims. Fourteen percent think that the Jewish state “sometimes behaves as badly as the Nazis,” and 16 percent agreed with the statement that “Israel’s human rights record is worse than most other countries.”

Pointing to Jewish-Americans as responsible for Israel’s actions was recorded at smaller rates (7%), as was support for an American boycott of Israeli companies and goods (8%).


Some good Jews news

On the other hand, most of the survey participants also expressed positive views towards Jews. Seventy-nine percent of Americans believe that “Jews place a strong emphasis on the importance of family life,” and 66 percent believe that “Jews have contributed much to the cultural life of America.”

“We are appalled to see the recent increase of antisemitic violence. Our research finds that this uptick (in antisemitic violence) is being cause not by a change in attitudes among most Americans,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Rather, more of the millions of Americans holding antisemitic views are feeling emboldened to act on their hate. We know that when antisemitic tropes are heard in public and are not condemned—especially by our leaders—it serves as a green light for individuals that refrained in the past to continue spreading such falsehoods, and also to act on them.”

Greenblatt added: “Everyone is responsible to raise their voice against hate and antisemitism wherever they are.”


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