ADL research: Conspiracy-minded Americans tend toward antisemitic views

Study finds close link between individuals’ belief in secretive plots and their agreement with negative stereotypes about Jews

Illustrative: A man sits with a laptop in a dark room (tanawit sabprasan; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A man sits with a laptop in a dark room (tanawit sabprasan; iStock by Getty Images)

Research by the Anti-Defamation League has found a close correlation between conspiratorial thinking in Americans to their belief in antisemitic tropes.

A recently published study by the ADL found that belief in antisemitic stereotypes in the US has doubled since 2019 to the highest level in decades. Further examining the results, the ADL found that such beliefs were particularly high in individuals who also gravitated toward conspiracy theories.

Among the stereotypes on which the survey respondents were questioned were statements such as “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America” (39% agreed), “Jews have too much power in the United States today” (20% agreed), “Jews have too much power in the business world” (26%) and “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind” (21%).

Cross-referencing that data with other questions, the researchers found, for example, that individuals who strongly agreed with the statement “I think that seemingly unconnected events are often the result of secret activities” were also those who agreed with the highest number of anti-Jewish tropes (6.7 on average). Those who strongly disagreed with the above statement agreed with 2.5 tropes on average.

In another instance, people who strongly concurred that “there are secret organizations that greatly influence political decisions” were again the highest in their Jewish stereotypes score (5.2) compared to those who strongly disagreed (2.7).

In a question intended to evoke the Great Replacement Theory, respondents were asked to rate the statement: “There are people who secretly work to make sure immigrants will eventually replace real Americans.” Once again, those who strongly agreed scored highest on the Jewish stereotypes believed (6.8) compared to those who strongly disagreed (2.8).

The study also found that those who agreed with more anti-Jewish tropes tended to know less about Jews and did not have relationships with Jewish people or had had negative ones.

The original study, published in January, found that 85% of Americans believe at least one anti-Jewish trope, compared to 61% in 2019.

“Those of us on the front lines have expected such results for a while now – and yet the data are still stunning and sobering: there is an alarming increase in antisemitic views and hatred across nearly every metric — at levels unseen for decades,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said then.

“From Pittsburgh to Charlottesville to the near-daily harassment of Jews in our greatest cities, antisemitic beliefs lead to violence. I hope this survey is a wake-up call to the entire country,” he said.

Antisemitic vandalism on the wall of a New York synagogue, August 17, 2022. (Courtesy)

The survey 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,” Matt Williams, vice president of the ADL’s year-old Center for Antisemitism Research, told The Washington Post.

The results correspond to an increase in anti-Jewish acts in the US. The ADL recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the country in 2021, a 34% increase from the previous year, and the highest since it began tracking in 1979.

The online survey was conducted among a representative sample of more than 4,000 US adults between September and October 2022, and had a margin of error of 2.06%.

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