One third reluctant to vote for pro-Israel politician

Poll finds nearly 1 in 4 Americans hold antisemitic views, highest in 60 years

ADL chief decries ‘shocking’ results of survey, which shows younger respondents most likely to agree with anti-Jewish tropes, have little problem with backing for Hamas

A cleaning crew prepares to cover hand-drawn swastikas on the front of Union Station near the US Capitol in Washington, on January 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A cleaning crew prepares to cover hand-drawn swastikas on the front of Union Station near the US Capitol in Washington, on January 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Nearly a quarter of Americans hold antisemitic beliefs, with a disturbing reversal in trends showing that younger generations are more likely to believe in antisemitic tropes than previous generations, the Anti-Defamation League found in a survey released Thursday.

The poll of more than 4,000 US adults asked respondents the extent to which they agree with statements such as “Jews have too much power in the business world,” “Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street” and “Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.”

The results showed that 24 percent of Americans agreed with at least six of the statements, up from 20% in 2022, and the highest figure since the 11 statements were first polled in 1964, when 29% agreed. Only 9% to 11% agreed with the statements from 2014 to 2019 before spiking this decade.

“After decades of antisemitism mostly keeping to the fringes of society, it is shocking to see the number of Americans who openly hold antisemitic beliefs increase so significantly in recent years,” ADL director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

The poll found that those under 45 were more likely to cotton to anti-Jewish tropes. A generational breakdown found that millennials agreed with an average of 5.37 of the statements posed, while Generation Z agreed with 5.01.

The ADL study did not say how it calculated generations, but millennials are generally considered to be individuals born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, while Generation Z includes those born from the mid-’90s to the early 2010s.

Generation X, people born between the mid-1960s and late 1970s, agreed with 4.19 statements, while Baby Boomers born between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s only agreed with 3.06 statements on average.

Among the disturbing finds, 27% of respondents said it would be at least somewhat acceptable for a close family member to support the Hamas terror group – with over half of Gen Z supporting this statement – while 23% have a close friend or family member who doesn’t like Jews.

The survey was taken in early January, after Hamas’s October 7 massacre – in which terrorists carried out atrocities in southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253, including babies as young as 9 months old.

In regards to Israel, 17% of Gen Z and 12% of millennials believe that the correct solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the termination of the State of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian State in all areas of historic Palestine, in which the Jews living there are not granted full citizenship rights.” Nevertheless, the two-state solution still remains the most popular solution among all generations.

The poll found that many respondents viewed Israelis as callous or malicious toward Palestinians, with 43% agreeing strongly or somewhat that Israelis intend to cause Palestinians as much suffering as possible. A similar proportion said Israelis were indifferent to Palestinian suffering.

Nearly 36% agreed to some extent with the statement, “If Israelis had their way, they would live in a world where all Palestinians were killed.”

One fifth supported, strongly or somewhat, the removal of Israeli products from grocery stores. And more than a third agreed to some extent with the statement, “I would not consider voting for a pro-Israel politician.” (Whether that finding bears out in the upcoming presidential election remains to be seen. While they disagree on Israel policy, all major candidates say they are supporters of Israel.)

In some cases, criticism of Israel overlapped with age-old antisemitic conspiracies. The survey found that 30% of respondents agreed in some measure that supporters of Israel control the media. And one third somewhat or strongly agreed that “Israeli operatives are secretly manipulating US national policy through [the pro-Israel lobby] AIPAC or other influence tools.”

Despite the findings regarding anti-Israel beliefs, the overwhelming majority of respondents — 88.8% — said Jews have the right to an independent country.

According to the ADL, belief in conspiracy theories persists as “the main predictive factors of antisemitic attitudes and beliefs,” with respondents in the upper quartile of conspiracy theory belief agreeing on average with over twice as many of the tropes than those in the bottom quartile.

In all, 33% of respondents at least somewhat endorsed the statement that “Israeli operatives are manipulating US national policy,” while 30% at least somewhat believed that “Israel controls the media.”

Demonstrators rally at an “All out for Gaza” protest at Columbia University in New York City, November 15, 2023. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)

The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of 4,143 respondents and had a 1.5% margin of error, follows a study released last month by the ADL showing antisemitic incidents had “skyrocketed” since the Hamas terror group’s October 7 attack and the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas.

“The sharp reversal, from older generations to younger generations being more likely to hold antisemitic beliefs, is a terrifying concern for our future,” Greenblatt said. “The need for better solutions is more urgent than ever – before this dangerous momentum keeps growing.”

There were 3,283 antisemitic incidents in the US between October 7 and January 7, according to the ADL report last month — including 60 physical assaults. It also counted 553 incidents of vandalism and 1,353 incidents of harassment.

The total number of incidents during the past three months is more than four times the number that occurred during the same period last year. The figure is higher than the total the group has recorded over the course of any full calendar year aside from 2022. By comparison, the ADL counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents during the entirety of 2021. In the whole of 2014, the year of Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, the ADL recorded just 912 antisemitic incidents.

The rise in antisemitism has been traced to the October 7 attack and the ensuing offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has sparked worldwide protests against Israel.

Since the beginning of the war, over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. These numbers cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between civilians and Hamas operatives. Israel says it has killed over 12,000 Hamas operatives inside Gaza since the beginning of its offensive and about 1,000 inside Israel on October 7.

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