Story at a glance

  • The research assessed participants’ perceptions of Jewish stereotypes. 

  • Responses showed 85 percent of Americans think at least one anti-Jewish trope is somewhat true.

  • The tropes focused on common anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, including that Jews are “clannish.”

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League highlights widespread antisemitic beliefs among the American public. 

Eighty-five percent of Americans think at least one anti-Jewish trope is somewhat true compared with 61 percent who said the same in 2019, according to survey responses from 4,000 individuals collected in the fall of 2022. 

The twenty percent of Americans who believe six or more tropes marks the highest level measured in decades, the ADL found, with authors classifying topline results as “cause for concern.” In 2019, just 11 percent of respondents believed six or more anti-Jewish tropes.

Taken together, the report shows “antisemitism in its classical fascist form is emerging again in American society, where Jews are too secretive and powerful, working against interests of others, not sharing values, exploiting — the classic conspiratorial tropes,” said Matt Williams, vice president of the ADL’s Center for Antisemitism Research in an interview with The Washington Post

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The survey follows an updated process developed by the ADL to measure more specific aspects of antisemitism, which included crafting more nuanced questions for participants.  

Young adults tended to hold less belief in anti-Jewish tropes than their older counterparts, though they tended to hold significantly more anti-Israel sentiment than older adults, responses showed. 

But authors note the difference in young adults holding less belief in anti-Jewish tropes compared with older adults “is substantially less than measured in previous studies.” 

The authors cited a survey carried out in 1992 which revealed a 19-percentage point gap between those under 40 and those over 40 with regard to belief in anti-Jewish tropes. At the time, researchers wrote “the steady influx of younger, more tolerant Americans into the adult population” contributed to an overall decrease in antisemitism.

The new results suggest “antisemitism in that classic, conspiratorial sense is far more widespread than anti-Israel sentiment,” Williams told The Washington Post. 

The vast majority of Americans (90 percent) believe Israel has a right to “defend itself against those who want to destroy it,” while 79 percent consider Israel a strong U.S. ally. 

But forty percent of respondents at least somewhat agreed “that Israel treats Palestinians like Nazis treated the Jews.” Nearly 20 percent at least slightly agreed with the statement “I am not comfortable spending time with people who openly support Israel.” 

The latest findings follow additional research showing half of Americans feel antisemitism has increased in the past few years, in the wake of several high-profile events. 

In 2017 neo-Nazis marched in the deadly Charlottesville ‘United the Right’ rally and in 2018, a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue marked the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States’ history. 

As part of the ADL’s survey, respondents were asked to rate the truthfulness of 14 statements containing anti-Jewish tropes, including “Jews have too much power in the business world,” and “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”

Seventy percent of Americans said they feel Jewish people stick together more than others, while 53 percent believe Jews go out of their way to hire other Jews.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans said Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States. Nearly a quarter believe “Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street.” 

The ADL has been measuring belief in 11 anti-Jewish tropes since 1964. The latest findings show three percent of all Americans in 2022 believe in all 11 of these tropes, corresponding to around 8 million people. 

Changes in survey response options along with how well respondents were sampled makes it difficult to assess if antisemitic views have increased over time, however.

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