Over 50 Percent of Americans Believe at Least One anti-Semitic Stereotype, Poll Shows

Anti-Defamation League survey says fourteen percent of respondents believe Israel 'behaves as badly as the Nazis,' while 16 percent agreed that the Jewish state’s 'record on human rights is worse than most other countries'

Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri
New York
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International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Chapter House at York Minster in York, England, January 23, 2020.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Chapter House at York Minster in York, England, January 23, 2020. Credit: Danny Lawson/AP
Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri
New York

NEW YORK – More than half of American adults believe at least one or more classic anti-Semitic canard, the Anti-Defamation League’s Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews released on Wednesday shows.

The poll, regularly conducted by the ADL to assess how the American public perceives Jews, consisted of 800 respondents who were interviewed between October 12 and 16 of 2019, before last month's sharp uptick in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews. 

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In December six people were killed in a shooting outside a kosher supermarket in Jersey City and five Orthodox Jews were stabbed in a Hanukkah party at a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York. 

In 2019, 234 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in New York City alone. 

According to the survey, 24 percent of Americans agree with the statement “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America,” making Jewish disloyalty a widespread anti-Semitic stereotype. 

Jewish control over business and financial markets is also among the most persistent stereotypes, with 15 percent of respondents believing Jews have “too much power in the business world,” and 10 percent agreeing with the statement “Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.”

In addition, 31 percent of those surveyed believe that Jewish employers prefer to hire other Jews, and go “out of their way” to do so. Another 17 percent agreed that “the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews.”

Moreover, ADL data also reveals that 27 percent of American adults believe that Jews killed Jesus Christ.

The poll, released two days after the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, also found that nearly one in five Americans believe “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust”, which the ADL said is “a disturbing finding at a time when research has shown that Americans are becoming less aware of the events of the Holocaust as time passes.”

When it comes to Israel, 14 percent of those who participated in the study said the Jewish state sometimes “behaves as badly as the Nazis,” and 16 percent agreed that Israel’s “record on human rights is worse than most other countries.”

According ADL's CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, the recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents “is being caused not by a change in attitudes among most Americans, rather, more of the millions of Americans holding anti-Semitic views are feeling emboldened to act on their hate.

“We know that when anti-Semitic attitudes are expressed in public discourse without condemnation, especially from our leaders, it gives a green light to those on the fringe to keep spouting it – and acting on it,” Greenblatt said, adding that “That’s why every person has a responsibility to call out hate and anti-Semitism whenever it arises.”

Nevertheless, the survey also showed that 79 percent of respondents 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.”

The ADL also pointed out that the number of American adults subscribing to stereotypes and canards about Jews remains at a historic low. The majority of ADL’s surveys over the last 25 years have indicated that 11 to 14 percent of Americans harbor anti-Semitic sentiments, which represent about 28 million people.

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