Antisemitic Attitudes in America: Conspiracy Theories, Holocaust Education and Other Predictors of Antisemitic Belief

Antisemitic Attitudes in America


In late 2022, NORC and ADL surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 4,000 Americans to better understand attitudes toward Jews and Israel. The survey included several batteries of questions, including: sections probing general attitudes toward Jews and Israel; questions designed to understand respondents’ level of agreement with both historic and contemporary anti-Jewish and anti-Israel tropes; questions measuring literacy and familiarity with Jews and Israel; several comparative prejudice experiments; and general conspiracy theory belief questions.

As detailed in an earlier topline report, the research revealed widespread levels of anti-Jewish sentiment among American adults. ADL found that a significant proportion of Americans saw Jews as:

  • Clannish outsiders: 70 percent and 53 percent of Americans said that Jews stick together more than others and go out of their way to hire other Jews, respectively
  • Dually loyal: 39 percent of Americans thought Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States
  • Disproportionately powerful: 38 percent of Americans thought Jews always like to be at the head of things, 26 percent thought Jews have too much power in business, and 20 percent thought Jews have too much power in the United States today

On average, Americans agreed with 4.2 of the 14 statements included in the anti-Jewish question battery. But a fifth of Americans (20 percent) agreed with 6 or more of the 11 original statements - the highest level of antisemitic attitudes detected in decades of asking this same series of questions.

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.


Researchers explored a variety of topics to better understand which factors are linked with holding greater numbers of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes. Overall, the study revealed that people who believe a higher number of anti-Jewish tropes tend to: 1) know little about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history; 2) not have any relationships with Jewish people and/or describe their past experiences with Jews negatively; 3) not think that Jews face hostility or danger in the United States today; and 4) show a general disposition toward conspiracy theory thinking. Researchers also found that being told someone is Jewish (and from Israel) increases the likelihood of perceiving that person as racially White. Understanding the relative predictive power of each of these variables will have significant implications in developing strategies aimed at ameliorating antisemitism.

In contrast, there was a weak statistical relationship between these variables and one’s level of anti-Israel attitudes. In fact, people’s attitudes towards Israel and Israelis seem to be shaped largely independently of one’s level of knowledge or relationships, with the important exception that the negative experience does appear to somewhat affect agreement with a few negative sentiments toward Israel. This finding raises important questions around how best to address anti-Israel sentiments.

Forthcoming reports will use additional data from ADL’s 2022 research study to explore how and why anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes spread, as well as in which demographic subgroups anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments are most common.



The sample contains 4,007 respondents from the National Opinion Research Center’s AmeriSpeak panel surveyed from September through October of 2022. Since its founding by NORC at the University of Chicago in 2015, AmeriSpeak has produced more than 900 surveys, been cited by dozens of media outlets and become the primary survey partner of the nation's preeminent news service, The Associated Press. AmeriSpeak was chosen for this study because of its scientifically rigorous panel and its strong representation of hard-to-reach populations, including low-income households, less educated persons, young adults, rural households, persons who are less interested in the news, and social and political conservatives. 

Indeed, careful attention was paid to ensure the probability sample included a broad swath of respondents from a range of socio-economic, political and ethno-racial backgrounds. This is a weighted, representative sample of Americans generally, and of the sub-populations that researchers oversampled: those between the ages of 18 and 30 (1,292 respondents), those on the political Right (420) and political Left (663), Black Americans (578) and Hispanic Americans (626).  15,862 respondents of the AmeriSpeak panel were invited to take this survey, of which 4,007 completed the instrument.

The study was registered with the University of Chicago’s Institutional Review Board for the Ethical Treatment of Human Subjects. The data are weighted to represent the general population of the United States in addition to the aforementioned subpopulations using the benchmarks of the demographic profile of the National Opinion Research Center’s AmeriSpeak panel and its 2021 General Social Survey. 

ADL and its partners seek to ensure the data and methodology are transparent and shared with the public. To that end, the data will be released through ICPSR at the University of Michigan.  


The survey questionnaire was designed as a large-scale collaboration between the staff at the ADL Center for Antisemitism Research, NORC, the One8 Foundation, Jewish communal and civil rights leaders, and an academic advisory board of scholars. Wherever possible, researchers incorporated questions that had been asked and validated elsewhere (such as the statements related to Israel) or had been asked previously by ADL (such as the ADL Index of anti-Jewish tropes).

Decades-long studies, such as the ADL Index, must balance continuity around measures while updating methods to ensure greater rigor and modern practices. Researchers opted to use the same 11 classic statements that probe, in particular, authoritarian anti-Jewish conspiratorial belief. In addition, researchers added back in a predictive statement that, while asked in the original 1964 study, had been dropped more recently. Further, researchers added two positively phrased statements in order to ensure greater rigor in the presentation of the attitudinal battery.  

In some cases, researchers made changes based on methodological best practice. For example, for the current survey, researchers opted to remove the “Unsure/Don’t Know” option for anti-Jewish tropes, considering it a crucial adjustment to the rigor of the study. While it is important to retain the “Unsure/Don’t Know” option for fact-based questions (some people just do not know a fact), for opinion-based questions, it is broadly better to compel some meaningful selection. Accordingly, the “Do not know” option was available for the fact-based questions about the size of the Jewish population in the US and the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

In addition to the historical measures of antisemitism, researchers added questions aimed at a contextual understanding of antisemitism vis-à-vis a broad worldview. Accordingly, researchers added questions about conspiracy theories not directly related to Jews, as well as questions on knowledge about Jews and Israel, perceptions of Jewish privilege and several experiments. Future reports will include analysis of the variables not addressed in this report.

Frequency Plots of Each Variable

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The continued partnership of the One8 Foundation.

Research support provided by Graham Wright and Leonard Saxe of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.