Conspiracy Theories, Holocaust Education, and Other Predictors of Antisemitic Belief

The research also demonstrated that negative sentiments toward Israel, including anti-Israel sentiments rooted in antisemitic conspiracy theories, were held by broad swaths of the American population:

·  Almost half (40 percent) of Americans agreed that Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews

·  About a quarter (24 percent) of Americans thought that Israel does not make a positive contribution to the world, and that Israel and its supporters are a bad influence on our democracy

·  Just under a fifth (18 percent) of Americans said they were not comfortable spending time with people who support Israel

Given these findings, researchers further probed where such attitudes and sentiments were coming from, what phenomena did they overlap with, and how did they manifest. If people agreed with more antisemitic tropes or had negative views on Israel, what else did they think, feel, or know about Jews or Israel?

As will be outlined below, researchers found several overarching answers to that question. Generally speaking, respondents who agreed with more anti-Jewish tropes:

·  Knew significantly less about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history, including under-counting the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust and overestimating the proportional size of the American Jewish community

·  Were somewhat more likely to not have any relationships with Jewish people and/or classify their past experiences with Jews more negatively

·  Were significantly less likely to think that Jews face organized hostility or danger for being Jewish, or that Jew-hatred is a serious or growing problem

·  Broadly, as one of the study’s experiments demonstrated, the term “Jew” has a Whitening effect on how people perceive individuals of ambiguous race. For White Americans, seeing a Jew as “White” (i.e., like them) was associated with believing fewer anti-Jewish tropes. For people of color, there was no significant relationship between perceiving Jews as White and anti-Jewish trope belief

·  Were significantly more likely to believe a range of conspiracy theories, including a conspiracy theory question designed to resemble the Great Replacement Theory

In contrast, researchers found that few of these factors had statistically significant relationships with sentiment toward Israel. Indeed, only one factor, the extent to which a respondent had a negative experience with Jews, was associated with sentiment toward Israel and, even then, it did so marginally. In fact, respondents appear willing to condemn or condone Israel and its supporters largely independent of their level of knowledge about Israel.

Taken together, these findings help draw a new, composite portrait of how people feel about Jews and Israel. This portrait illuminates both key predictors of negative attitudes towards Jews and Israel and critical avenues for future causal research.

This report is the second in a multi-part series based on ADL’s 2022 study with the National Opinion Research Center in partnership with the One8 Foundation. Future reports, to be published in the coming months, will use additional data from the survey to explore how and why anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes spread, as well as in which demographic subgroups antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments are most common.