A new survey released last week by the Anti-Defamation League indicates that the overwhelmingly vast majority of Americans believe at least one antisemitic trope and that 20% of Americans believe six or more tropes about Jews.
The findings were released on Jan. 12 and laid out in the summary report of “Antisemitic Attitudes in America,” which surveyed more than 4,000 people in September and October 2022, and come as antisemitism nationally and globally continues to rise unabated. (In 2021, the most recent full-year data available, the ADL recorded a 34% increase in antisemitic incidents from 2020, and the highest number on record since ADL began its tracking in 1979.)
While 61% of Americans believed in at least one antisemitic statement in 2019, today that number is at 85% — meaning tens of millions of Americans “harbor antisemitic tropes,” according to ADL CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt.
The ADL has been surveying the attitudes of Americans on antisemitic tropes since 1964. This year’s finding are at the “highest watermark” in years, according to ADL officials, with Greenblatt noting that at least one of the findings took “my breath away.”
While Baltimore has not seen the kinds of antisemitism that has plagued other areas, such as parts of Maryland such as Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville, the results of the study are still concerning, according to local officials.
“The new survey from ADL underscores a number of trends that we are seeing and hearing about locally, in our state and across our nation. It is extremely troubling as we try to build a society that is free of antisemitism and hate,” said Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.
“The data speak to the importance of the work we are doing, and why we are investing more resources than ever to combat antisemitism,” he said. “Education and allyship across the community are more important than ever.”
Not ‘as honest as other businesspeople’
As part of their research, the surveyors presented participants with a series of antisemitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel questions, and asked them if they were “mostly/somewhat true” or “mostly/somewhat false.” The results found that:
• 70% of Americans say Jews stick together more than other Americans;
• 39% say Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America;
• 20% say Jews have too much power in the United States;
• 16% believe Jews are not “as honest as other businesspeople,” while 24% say that Jews in business “are so shrewd that other people do not have a fair chance at competition.”
Respondents were also asked a series of questions about the State of Israel. Most Americans believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and believe it to be a strong U.S. ally.
However, there were some troubling results — namely, the fact that 40% of Americans believe, at least slightly, that Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews and that 18% are uncomfortable spending time with a person who supports Israel.
Younger Americans were found to have higher rates of anti-Israel sentiments as compared to those over the age of 30.
Growing concerns about physical safety
The ADL report was not the only troubling report on antisemitism to be released last week.
The American Jewish Committee issued a one-page analysis on how Jews reacted to the hostage-taking of a rabbi and parishioners at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15, 2022.
The analysis found that 67% of Jews ages 18 to 29 who heard about the hostage crisis reported feeling less safe while 50% of Jews over the age of 65 said the same.
Furthermore, Jews who identify with a religious denomination were more likely to express concerns about their physical safety in the aftermath of the incident.
“The Colleyville attack clearly reverberated throughout the Jewish community. No Jew should ever feel unsafe anywhere, anytime in America simply because they are Jewish,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “As we have seen on a local and national level, these antisemitic incidents don’t happen in a vacuum. They are rooted in an age-old hatred that cannot go unchecked.”
The report also found a disconnect between what members of the Jewish community heard as the crisis was unfolding and what the rest of America did. The report noted that while 23% of Jews heard “a lot” about the incident as it was happening, only 6% of all Americans did so. Additionally, while 24% of Jews didn’t hear anything about the incident, that number rose to 40% among all Americans.
The AJC findings are part of a larger report on the state of antisemitism that is expected to be released in full detail in February.