Press Release

In First, New ADL Poll Finds Majority of Americans Concerned About Violence Against Jews and Other Minorities, Want Administration to Act

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New York, NY, April 6, 2017 … Two new public opinion polls commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reveal important trends among Americans in terms of their views of Jews and other religious minorities.

The surveys reveal that while anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States have increased slightly to 14 percent, the vast majority of Americans hold respectful opinions of their Jewish neighbors. However, for the first time ADL found a majority of Americans (52 percent) saying that they are concerned about violence in the U.S. directed at Jews, and an even a higher percentage (76 percent) concerned about violence directed at Muslims. More than eight in 10 Americans (84 percent) believe it is important for the government to play a role in combating anti-Semitism, up from 70 percent in 2014.

The polls, based on 3,600 interviews conducted in the U.S. in January and February 2017, and another 1,500 interviews in October 2016, were released as part of ADL’s ongoing research into anti-Jewish attitudes under the ADL Global 100, a project launched in 2014 that established a worldwide index of anti-Semitic attitudes. New data on four additional countries will be released in full later this spring.

ADL has been polling on anti-Semitic attitudes in the U.S. since 1964 and has tracked a pronounced decline in anti-Jewish attitudes in the last 50 years. In the most recent installment of ADL’s Survey of Anti-Semitic Attitudes in the U.S., conducted in October 2016, the agency found that 14 percent of the population – approximately 34 million American adults – holds anti-Semitic beliefs.

“We conducted two polls to ensure that we fully understood the mood of the country. The good news in this research is that today a large majority of Americans do not subscribe to common anti-Semitic stereotypes,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “It’s also encouraging that a record number of Americans are concerned about violence against the Jewish and Muslim communities, and are troubled at how intolerance has infected our politics. But it’s discouraging to know that Muslims and other minorities feel unsafe. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do.”

In addition to its attitudinal surveys, ADL also annually publishes an Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.S. That data is currently being compiled based on reporting from ADL regional offices around the country and information shared by law enforcement. The organization will release the 2016 audit later this month.

Politics and the 2016 Campaign

The January-February survey found broad concern about anti-Semitism seen during the 2016 presidential campaign, with most Americans saying Donald Trump should have done more to discourage it.

A plurality of those polled (47 percent) said there was more anti-Semitism during the 2016 campaign than previously, and 49 percent said candidate Trump should have done more to discourage it, compared with 36 percent who said he did enough to discourage anti-Semitism. In the October 2016 poll, 68 percent said campaign rhetoric “decreased tolerance and respect for all races and religions.”

Although only one-third of Americans (33 percent) think President Trump is personally anti-Semitic, most believe he holds a variety of prejudiced views – with 59 percent saying he is anti-Muslim, 54 percent saying he holds racist views, and 53 percent saying he is anti-Latino.

Overall, 62 percent of Americans are concerned the nation’s politics have become less stable, up from 54 percent in 2015.

Muslim Americans

This year’s poll is the first time the ADL Global 100 examined American Muslims’ attitudes toward Jews and to their own place in American society. Thirty-four (34) percent of American Muslims hold anti-Semitic views, but that is far lower than Muslims in Europe, where 55 percent hold these views, and the Middle East/North Africa, where 75 percent hold anti-Semitic views. In a further sign of contrast, a majority of Muslims in those two regions hold unfavorable views of Israel, yet 50 percent of Muslim Americans polled had a favorable view of Israel.

Six in 10 Muslim Americans say they are concerned about the possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., and 51 percent believe Muslim leaders in the U.S. have “done as much as they should” to counter extremism. Another 39 percent say Muslim leaders “have not done enough to speak out” against Islamic extremists.

Eighty-nine (89) percent of Muslim Americans are concerned about violence directed at them and Islamic institutions in the U.S., and 64 percent said that they do not believe the government is doing enough to ensure their safety.  On a related point, while 72 percent of Muslims said they do not believe they need to hide their faith, 66 percent said they feel less safe in America since President Trump was elected.

Other Findings

  • About half of Americans are familiar with the so-called “alt-right” and 62 percent consider this movement to be anti-Semitic.
  • Two out of three Americans (67 percent) support Latino immigration to the U.S.
  • 53 percent believe the U.S. has a moral obligation to allow more Muslim refugees to enter the country because of the threat the refugees face in their native countries, compared with 34 percent who say we do not have such an obligation.

More from the October Poll

 This poll found those who are the least educated and those who are the oldest in the population are most likely to hold anti-Semitic attitudes. This was consistent with past polls. Americans aged 39 or younger are remarkably free of prejudicial views.

Other findings include:

  • 31 percent of the American people believe that Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America,” a finding consistent with previous polls going back to 1964. 
  • 30 percent of Americans accept the anti-Semitic notion that the Jews “killed Jesus.”
  • One-quarter of Americans continue to believe that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust,” a finding consistent with previous surveys.

The October 2016 survey on anti-Semitism was conducted by Marttila Strategies. It was a national telephone with a base sample of 1,532 adults, plus an oversample of 280 African-Americans, and 252 Hispanics, bringing the oversample for both communities to 400 each. For those questions answered by all respondents, the survey results have a margin of error of ± 3 percent.

Following the October 2016 survey, ADL commissioned First International Resources to update attitudes and opinions toward Jews in five countries. Fieldwork and data collection for the project were conducted and coordinated by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research. All interviews were conducted between January 16 and February 27, 2017. The margin of error for the USA general population was +/-1.6 percent. The margin of error for USA Muslims was +/-3 percent.