A new survey from ADL reveals new findings about antisemitism in the form of hostility toward the Jewish state. ADL has surveyed antisemitic attitudes and beliefs in the United States since 1964. In 2022, ADL’s Center for Antisemitism Research updated its survey to include several questions examining Americans’ sentiments toward Israel and its supporters.
This was done out of a recognition that, while not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, there is often a degree of overlap between anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments, which requires deeper examination.
Indeed, the survey revealed several troubling trends about perceptions related to Israel and Jews. As a topline finding, there is “a substantive correlation” between “belief in anti-Jewish tropes and anti-Israel sentiment across all respondents,” with older adults having a much higher correlation than younger adults.
What did the ADL survey say?
In terms of specific attitudes, the survey found that 51% of Americans agreed with at least one negative statement regarding Israel and its supporters, including 18% who stated they were uncomfortable spending time with a person who supports Israel; that 39% of Americans believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America; and that 23% believe that Israel can get away with anything because its supporters control the media.
THESE FINDINGS challenge claims by the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist movements that deny the overlap between anti-Jewish and anti-Israel positions. In recent years, we have witnessed attempts by the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel (BDS), whose founding principles call for the return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel, thus eliminating its Jewish character, to falsely claim their movement has nothing to do with Jews and is only focused on Israel.
There were several significant instances in recent years, on both the Left and Right, where Zionists were portrayed as having a nefarious agenda. These include comments by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) San Francisco Executive Director Zahra Billoo calling on Muslims to “pay attention” to “Zionist synagogues” and several pro-Israel Jewish organizations, the ejection of Jews carrying a rainbow flag with the Star of David from the Chicago Dyke March, and comments by Rick Wiles on TruNews about “Zionists” controlling the media and US government.
These examples highlight anti-Zionism as a category of prejudice in which anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments tend to converge. Given that most Jews worldwide view themselves as having a connection to Israel, it is clear that vilification of Zionism often entails a broader animus toward Jews.
All of this reinforces the need for countries and entities to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which rightly points to the potential overlap between anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments, as a guidance tool in helping to understand the various manifestations of antisemitism, including through attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.
Looking ahead, future studies and policies must focus on highlighting the linkage between anti-Israel and anti-Jewish tropes. Doing so will allow us to push back more effectively on efforts by antisemites to attack Jews under the guise of criticizing Israel.
The writer is ADL Israel director.