Anti-Defamation League poll: Anti-Semitic attitudes match lowest level recorded

NEW YORK, NY – A nationwide survey of the American people released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finds anti-Semitic attitudes equal to the lowest level in all the years of taking the pulse of the American attitudes toward Jews.

The survey found that 12 percent of Americans hold anti-Semitic views, a decline from 15 percent in 2007 and matching the lowest figure ever recorded by ADL, in 1998.   In its 1964-benchmark survey 29 percent of Americans were categorized as having anti-Semitic views.

The 2009 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, a national telephone survey of 1,200 American adults, was conducted September 26-October 4, 2009 by Marttila Communications of Washington, D.C. and Boston. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 percent.

“The fact that anti-Semitic attitudes have reached their lowest point to date is good news, the product of many years of constant and intense efforts by ADL and others to make America a more accepting society,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

“At the same time,” Mr. Foxman noted, “there continues to be violence targeting Jews and an increasing use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.  We can’t dismiss that 12 percent of the American people means that there are still over 30 million Americans that hold anti-Semitic views.”

Commenting on the incongruity of good numbers with the headlines of anti-Semitic violent incidents and public expressions, Mr. Foxman said that “just as the good news about the election of an African-American as President has been tempered by the surfacing of racism and conspiratorial thinking in reaction, so too the significant diminution of widespread prejudice against Jews is tempered by the manifestation of violence, conspiracy theories and insensitivities toward them.”

Mr. Foxman added “that even in this 2009 good news survey, some bad news remains a constant, such as 30 percent believing that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America, and 29 percent believing that Jews are responsible for the death of Christ. Equally of concern is that more than a quarter of African-Americans — 28 percent — hold anti-Semitic beliefs and more than a third of foreign born Hispanics — 35 percent –have such attitudes.”

  The Findings: Reinforcing Certain Trends

  —  Education remains a strong predictor of anti-Semitic propensities, with the most well-educated Americans largely free of prejudicial
      views while less educated Americans are more likely to hold anti-Semitic views. 19.5 percent of Americans with less than a college
      education hold anti-Semitic views, a significantly higher figure than the overall 12 percent.
  —  The major manifestations of anti-Semitic attitudes lie in the accusation of disproportionate Jewish power among those holding
      anti-Semitic views.
—  79 percent of those holding anti-Semitic views believe that Jews have too much power in business, compared to 18 percent of the
      general population.
—  68 percent accuse Jews of controlling Wall Street, compared to 15 percent overall.
—  64 percent say that Jews have too much power in the U.S. compared to 13% overall.
—  Once again, the survey found a major gap between foreign-born Hispanic attitudes toward Jews and for those born in the U.S.
—  35 percent of foreign-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, compared to 18 percent for those born in the U.S. This finding holds out the hope that children of Hispanic immigrants, exposed to America’s diverse society and education, will continue to move away from classical anti-Semitic attitudes.
  —  Attitudes towards Jews in the African-American community continue to be of concern though in this survey there is a significant decline in
      those holding anti-Semitic views.
 —  28 percent of African-Americans fall into the category of those holding anti-Semitic views, a lowering from the high of 37 percent in 1992 and 32 percent in 2007.
—  At all age levels, men are more likely than women to hold anti-Semitic views.  Between the ages of 18-39, 16 percent of men compared to 12
      percent of women hold anti-Semitic views; between the ages of 40-64, 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women hold anti-Semitic views, and 65 and older, 15 percent of men and 9 percent of women hold anti-Semitic views.

In measuring anti-Semitic attitudes the survey relied upon an anti-Semitism index developed by ADL and the University of California over 45 years ago.

The index includes 11 questions which are used to gauge respondent’s anti-Semitic propensities.  Those who agree with six or more of the index statements are considered to have anti-Semitic attitudes.

Methodology

Marttila Communications, a Washington, DC/Boston-based public opinion research firm, which has conducted ADL’s previous surveys, conducted this national telephone survey of 1,747 adults. The base sample is 1,200 plus an oversample of 256 African Americans and 250 Hispanics, bringing the oversample for both communities to 400 each.

For those questions answered by all 1,200 respondents, the survey results have a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. 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 samples of 600 respondents each. For those questions that were answered by 600 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

The purpose of split sampling in the survey was to maximize the number of questions that could be asked, to test different hypotheses about an issue, and to test the impact of different question wording.

The full poll is available online at http://www.adl.org/Anti_semitism/poll_as_2009/default.asp