On the occasion of its centennial, the latest Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) survey of the American people found that 12% of Americans harbor deeply entrenched anti-Semitic attitudes. This marks a 3% decline since the League’s previous poll on anti-Semitic attitudes
The 2013 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, a national telephone survey of 1,200 adults, was conducted October 12-22 by Marttila Strategies of Washington, DC and Boston. The margin of error is +/- 2.8%.
The ADL poll measured anti-Semitic propensities using an 11-question index developed by ADL nearly 50 years ago. The first poll, issued in 1964, found that 29% of Americans were infected at the time with anti-Jewish attitudes.
“It is heartening that attitudes toward Jews have improved over the last few years and, historically, have declined significantly in America,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. “On the occasion of our centennial it causes us to take a broader perspective, to appreciate how far we have come in 100 years.
"In 1913 there were no surveys like this, but anti-Semitism was rife in public and private expressions, in universities, jobs and neighborhoods. In 1964, when we did our first survey, we found that 29% of Americans held anti-Semitic views. So we – and America – have made real progress, and yet disturbing indicators remain.”
In the new survey, a significant number of Americans agreed with sharply worded criticisms of Jews, with many of the findings virtually unchanged since the previous survey in 2011:
- Fourteen percent agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power in the US today” (unchanged from 2011).
- Thirty percent of Americans continue to say that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel”
than to their own country, America (unchanged from 2011 and 1964).
- Nineteen percent of Americans believe Jews have too much power in the business world, nearly unchanged from the 20% who agreed with this statement in 2011.
- Seventeen percent say that Jews have too much control on Wall Street, a slight decline from 19% answering “true” to that statement in 2011.
- Fifteen percent agreed that Jews are “more willing to use shady practices,” unchanged from 2011.
- A surprisingly large number of Americans continue to believe that “Jews were responsible for the death of Christ.” Twenty-six percent of Americans agreed with that statement, down from 31% in 2011.
- Eighteen percent say that Jews have too much influence over the American news media, and 24% agreed that the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews.
- Nearly one-quarter of respondents agreed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
“The poll shows that while we have made great progress in promoting understanding in American society, the most enduring anti-Semitic canards continue to hold sway among some segments of the American public,” said Foxman. “Disturbingly large numbers of Americans continue to hold fast to the classic anti-Semitic canards.
"It is particularly frustrating that since 1964, 30% of Americans have consistently believed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country of America. This dual-loyalty charge has tenaciously persisted despite the sweeping demographic changes that have taken place over the past 50 years.
Foxman added, “After making gains in earlier years, the past several years have seen almost no movement of the needle on the percentages for belief in Jewish control of Hollywood, Wall Street and business. The high percentages of Americans believing in classic anti-Semitic stereotypes dramatically make the case of the need for further anti-bias education and for confronting the most pervasive anti-Semitic canards in society.”
As in previous surveys, the most educated Americans are largely free of prejudicial views. Less educated Americans are more likely to hold anti-Semitic views. Age is also a strong predictor of anti-Semitic propensities. Younger Americans – those under age 39 – are remarkably free of prejudicial views.
The poll also looked at anti-Semitic views among significantly large minority groups:
- Hispanics: Once again, Hispanic Americans born outside of the US are significantly more likely than Hispanics born in the US to hold anti-Semitic views. According to the survey, 36% of foreign-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, as compared to 14% of US-born Hispanics. Those findings represent a welcome decline from 2011, when 42% of foreign-born Hispanics, and 20% of US born Hispanics held anti-Semitic views.
- African-Americans: For many years, anti-Semitic views among the African-American have remained consistently higher than the general population. In 2013, 20% of African-Americans expressed strongly anti-Semitic views, an encouraging decrease of nine percentage points from the previous survey in 2011.
“We are heartened by the significant drop in the levels within both the Hispanic community and the African-American community,” said Foxman. “While the changes are significant, it is still troubling to see such a high number for foreign-born Hispanics. It shows that immigrants to the United States bring with them deeply ingrained anti-Semitic attitudes, and that we must remain vigilant in working to counter these attitudes among the foreign born.”
Jews were found to be held in high regard on many key measurements. Even Americans who hold the most anti-Semitic views agreed with many positive statements about Jews, including:
- Jews have a strong faith in God (75%);
- Jews have contributed much to the cultural life of America (65%);
- Jews place a strong emphasis on the importance of family life (78%).
The survey was conducted with a base sample of 1,200, plus an over sample of 281 African-Americans and 199 Hispanics, bringing the over sample for both communities to 400 each. For those questions answered by all 1,200 respondents, the survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%.
For many questions, the survey used the technique of “split sampling,” a process in which the 1,200-person sample was split into two demographically representative national samples of 600 respondents each or three demographically representative national samples of 400 respondents.
For those questions that were answered by 600 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%. For those questions that were answered by 400 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.