Anti-Semitism in the US is on the upswing for the first time in a decade, the Anti-Defamation League reported yesterday with the release of a national survey, "2002 Survey of Anti-Semitism in America."
The survey, which polled 1,000 adults between April 26 and May 6, 2002, found that 17% of respondents representing 35 million Americans hold anti-Semitic beliefs. The finding reversed a ten-year decline in Anti-Semitic attitudes among Americans, from 20% in 1992 to 12% in 1998.
Conducted by the Boston-based Marttila Communications Group, the survey asked respondents to agree or disagree with 11 statements that make up the ADL's 'anti-Semitic index.' Agreement with at least six statements, which include such notions as, "Jews are more loyal to Israel than America," "Jews have too much power in the business world," and "Jews don't care what happens to anyone but their own kind," constitute anti-Semitism, according to the poll. The survey has a margin of error of three percentage points.
A separate poll of anti-Semitic incidents around the country that occurred in the first five months of 2002 also showed a reverse trend, with the number of anti-Jewish acts increasing 11% from the same time period in 2001. This poll found a 43% increase in harassment against Jews, and a 27% decrease in vandalism of Jewish property. A poll released two months ago on anti-Jewish incidents in 2001 had shown an 11% decrease compared to the year before.
While one of the poll's findings, that anti-Israel sentiment was closely related to anti-Semitism, was not surprising to ADL officials, ADL director Abraham Foxman noted that anti-Israel feelings are triggering anti-Semitism for the first time in the ADL's polling history. The survey found that 73% of respondents classified as anti-Semitic said the US has been tilting too much toward Israel, compared to 51% of respondents not considered to be anti-Semitic.
Foxman also noted that classic anti-Semitic stereotypes concerning Jews' business ethics, for example, are being replaced by the notion that Jews wield too much power. Some 42% of anti-Semitic respondents said that Jewish leaders have too much influence over US foreign policy, compared to 11% of non-anti-Semitic respondents. Seventy-two percent of those in the anti-Semitic category said that Jews generally have too much power, compared to 20% among other respondents.
Released on the nine month anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Foxman said that some of the increased anti-Jewish sentiment in the US can be attributed to efforts, mainly in the Arab and Muslim world, to blame Israel, and by extension American Jewry, for either carrying out the attacks itself, or for provoking the perpetrators into carrying out the attacks because of Israel's policies.
"I am a Holocaust survivor, and I have always lived with the nightmare that if God forbid something happens to America, Jews will be blamed," said Foxman.
In a separate poll of 300 Hispanic-Americans the fastest growing minority in the US 35% were found to hold anti-Semitic views. Foreign-born Hispanic-Americans, who constitute 63% of the population, were found more likely to be anti-Semitic, at 44%, while 20% of American-born Hispanics are anti-Semitic. Foxman attributed the difference in levels of anti-Semitism to the foreign-born population's lower education levels, and the religious teachings in the respondents' countries of origin. Nearly half (44%) of the foreign-born respondent said that Jews are responsible for the death of Christ, for example, compared to 26% of American-born Hispanics.
A poll of 300 African-American community also found the rate of anti-Semitism to be high, at 35%. Each poll's margin of error is 5.7%.
On a more positive note, just 3% of undergraduate college and university students, and 5% of campus faculty, were found to be anti-Semitic. The surveys, which were conducted between April 26 and May 3, 2002, have a margin of error of 3.4% for the students poll and 4.4% for the faculty poll.
The surveys are available at www.adl.org.