survey says

As anniversary of synagogue attack approaches, ADL finds increased share of U.S. public holds antisemitic views

Twenty percent of respondents said six antisemitic statements or more were at least somewhat true.

As the Jewish community prepares to mark the first anniversary of the synagogue attack in Colleyville, Texas, the Anti-Defamation League released a survey of antisemitic attitudes in the United States that paints a sobering picture for the constellation of groups fighting antisemitism. 

The survey asked respondents to rate the truth of 14 classically anti-Jewish statements, and found that 85% said at least one of them was “somewhat true” or “mostly true.” Twenty percent said six statements or more were at least somewhat true — nearly double the 11% in ADL’s 2019 survey. An option for respondents to choose “unsure” was eliminated from the poll between 2019 and 2022, but an ADL official said that change did not produce a statistically significant difference in the six-or-more responses.

The sentence “Jews stick together more than other Americans” garnered 70% endorsement as at least “somewhat true,” while more than half of respondents at least somewhat believed the statement “Jews in business go out of their way to hire other Jews.” The study included 4,000 respondents who were surveyed in September and October, with a 2% margin of error. 

Nearly 40% at least slightly agreed that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America,” and a similar percentage at least slightly agreed that “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews.” Nearly a quarter at least slightly agreed that “Israel can get away with anything because its supporters control the media, while the corresponding figure was 18% for the statement, “I am not comfortable spending time with people who openly support Israel.”

Pointing to the 3% of respondents who at least slightly agreed with 11 antisemitic stereotypes, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said at a virtual press conference that if that number were extrapolated to the country as a whole, “it translates to nearly 8 million Americans. In other words, there are more hardcore antisemites in America than the total number of American Jews,” a figure estimated at roughly 7.5 million by the Pew Research Center.  

The ADL survey is not the only assessment of American antisemitism to emerge in the days before the anniversary of the Colleyville attack, in which a gunman held a rabbi and three congregants hostage for hours on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, before they escaped. The Combat Antisemitism Movement, a global network, recommended increased diplomatic efforts, interreligious partnership and expanded research into antisemitism. 

A survey by the American Jewish Committee, meanwhile, found that American Jews ages 18 to 29 felt less safe following the Colleyville attack than those in older age groups. Two-thirds of Jews in the younger cohort who heard a lot or some about the attack “felt a great deal or a fair amount less safe,” the highest number among any age bracket surveyed. The survey included more than 1,500 American Jewish respondents and was taken in the fall, with a margin of error of 3.4%.

“In some way, they’re compatible,” Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s U.S. director for combating antisemitism, told eJewishPhilanthropy regarding the ADL and AJC surveys. “We’ve seen more open and violent action against Jews.” 

The ADL survey found that American young adults are, on average, more anti-Israel than their elders, and have “only marginally less belief in anti-Jewish tropes.” Given those results, Huffnagle said, it makes sense that young American Jews may be “feeling less safe, not willing to want to post things online, seeing antisemitism more frequently.”

In the wake of the past year’s antisemitism, the Jewish Federations of North America raised $62 million for communal security — one-third of which is going to the Secure Community Network, a national group, and two-thirds of which is going to funding security infrastructure, and security directors, for local Jewish communities. Those donations to communities will then be matched two-to-one by local giving, for a total of more than $120 million. 

So far, JFNA has allocated $10 million in 25 three-year grants to local communities, and approximately 70 local federations have community security programs.  

“If there was any doubt you needed to have a security program everywhere, Colleyville was the answer to that,” JFNA CEO Eric Fingerhut told eJP. “Clearly, not every antisemitic incident is itself a violent act, but the more of them there are, the more they are clearly going to instigate, provoke or inspire violent acts. And so, we know that the challenge for our security programs is growing proportionally to the growing prevalence of antisemitism in American society.”

To counter the growth of antisemitic attitudes, Fingerhut said federations need to invest more in their Jewish Community Relations Councils, which aim to build relationships with a range of local groups and advocate for issues of Jewish concern. 

“We have to be honest and say that certainly some of our federations have maintained consistent investment in the infrastructure of community relations, but probably not everybody maintains a level of investment that’s needed,” he said. “We definitely need to make sure that the same way we are with… building the security infrastructure in every community, that there is a community relations infrastructure in every community.”

Sharon Nazarian, president of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation, and a former ADL executive, feels the key to fighting antisemitism lies in education. 

“All sectors of American society need to incorporate antisemitism into their DEI trainings and education,” she told eJP, using an acronym for diversity, equity and inclusion. “Universities need to train faculty and staff and incoming college freshmen need to be educated about antisemitism as they are about racism and homophobia. Until we integrate educating about antisemitism alongside all forms of intolerance, the rate of antisemitic attitudes will continue to rise.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include more information about the ADL survey’s methodology.