As the Anti-Defamation League celebrated its centennial Thursday, it revealed that anti-Semitism had declined by three percent in the last two years, but that some Americans still hold fast to “classic anti-Semitic canards.”
The ADL celebrated 100 years of action against anti-Semitism at a summit in New York City. Among those in attendance was American UN ambassador Samantha Power, who Tweeted Thursday morning that the “ADL’s story is the story of our collective fight against hate.”
During the summit, the ADL announced the findings of its most recent poll on American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, which was conducted in 2013 after a two-year hiatus.
The poll’s findings showed that 12% of Americans harbor deeply entrenched anti-Semitic attitudes, down from 15% in 2011, the group said in a statement.
The percentage of respondents who believe that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus was 26 percent, down from 31 percent in 2011. Eighteen percent said Jews have too much influence over the news media and about one-quarter agreed that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust.
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) October 31, 2013
The survey was conducted by phone and included 1,200 respondents. The first such poll, which was conducted in 1964, found that 29% of Americans harbored anti-Jewish attitudes. “It is heartening that attitudes toward Jews have improved over the last few years and, historically, have declined significantly in America,” ADL director Abe Foxman said of this year’s findings.
“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,” he continued.
“We — and America — have made real progress,” he said, but warned that “disturbing indicators remain,” with “disturbingly large numbers of Americans” holding fast to the “classic anti-Semitic canards” and exhibiting a worrying lack of understanding.
“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,” Foxman said.
The poll found that 14% of Americans agree with the statement that “Jews have too much power in the US today” (unchanged from 2011), while 19% believe Jews have too much power in the business world (down from 20% in 2011), 17% think Jews have too much control on Wall Street (down from 19% in 2011) and 18% say Jews have too much influence over American news media.
Thirty percent of respondents said they believe American Jews are “more loyal to Israel” than to the US, with 15 percent saying Jews were “more willing to use shady practices.”
“It is particularly frustrating that since 1964, 30 percent 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 fifty years,” Foxman said.
Twenty-six percent said they believe “Jews were responsible for the death of Christ,” down from 31 percent in 2011. Nearly a fourth said they agreed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
Higher-than-average levels of anti-Semitism were measured within the African-American and foreign-born Hispanic communities, though in both cases levels had dropped significantly since 2011.
On a positive note, the poll found that Americans under age 39 were likely to be “remarkably free of prejudicial views,” as were most educated Americans. Additionally, even respondents who were found to hold anti-Semitic views conceded that “Jews have contributed much to the cultural life of America” (65%) and that “Jews place a strong emphasis on the importance of family life” (78%).
JTA contributed to this report.