The Anti-Defamation League reports that as the economy has faltered over the last two years, anti-Semitism has risen. What does the recession have to do with hateful attitudes toward Jews? Here, a brief guide:
Why has the Anti-Defamation League concluded that anti-Semitism is getting worse?
The League conducted an October phone survey of 1,754 adults. The results? The ADL says 15 percent of Americans hold "deeply anti-Semitic views," compared to 12 percent in 2009. The pollsters measured prejudice by asking people whether they agreed with statements reflecting negative stereotypes. For example, 15 percent of respondents agreed that Jews are "more willing to use shady practices" than non-Jews. "It is disturbing that with all of the strides we have made in becoming a more tolerant society," says the ADL's Abraham Foxman, "anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vise-grip on a small but not insubstantial segment of the American public." The most-educated respondents were the least likely to be anti-Semitic.
What's the link to the recession?
The last survey was conducted in 2009, so the shift in attitude occurred during the ongoing economic crisis, and some of the biggest changes came with questions measuring stereotypes about Jews and money. That suggests that the downturn in the economy is causing old biases to bubble up, Foxman says. For instance, 19 percent of survey respondents said the statement that "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street" was "probably true." In 2009, that number was 14 percent.
Do Americans hold other anti-Semitic beliefs?
Yes. Thirty percent, for example, say Jews are "more loyal to Israel than to America"; 31 percent say "Jews were responsible for the death of Christ"; and nearly half say Jews "stick together more than other Americans."
Has U.S. anti-Semitism been worse?
Yes. The ADL found that 17 percent of Americans were anti-Semitic in 2002 (during another economic downturn) — the highest level the group has ever recorded.