Interesting Findings from the American Jewish Committee Survey of American Jewish Opinion

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way President George W. Bush is handling the U.S. campaign against terrorism?
Approve 41
Disapprove 54
Not sure 5

Comment: This is ambiguous, as I suspect a fair percentage of Jews think the president has not been vigorous enough in opposing terrorism, especially Palestinian terrorism.

19. I would like you to rate your feelings toward some countries, institutions and people, with one hundred meaning a very warm, favorable feeling, zero meaning a very cold, unfavorable feeling, and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred. How would you rate your feelings toward [ ].
Mean Score
a. Iran 27
b. The European Union 54
c. Saudi Arabia 29
d. Germany 45
e. Jordan 43
f. Egypt 45
g. Great Britain 77
h. Poland 56
i. The Palestinians 21
j. France 33
k. China 44
l. Syria 24
m. Turkey 52
n. India 55
o. The Vatican 51
p. Italy 62
q. Spain 62
r. Russia 51
s. South Africa 53

Comment: OK, France is bad, but worse than Egypt, whose official media engages in blatant anti-Semitism?

22. I’m going to read you a list of political views that people might hold. They are arranged from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. Where would you place yourself on this scale?
Extremely liberal 4
Liberal 19
Slightly liberal 17
Moderate, middle of the road 33
Slightly conservative 13
Conservative 12
Extremely conservative 2
Not sure 1

Comment: Judging from experience, I find it hard to believe that liberal Jews outnumber conservatives only 40% to 27%, but perhaps that’s because I’ve been in and around academia too long.

25. Do you think the number of immigrants from foreign countries who are permitted to come to the United States to live should be increased a lot, increased a little, left the same as it is now, decreased a little, or decreased a lot?
Increased a lot 4
Increased a little 11
Left the same as it is now 43
Decreased a little 21
Decreased a lot 20
Not sure 2

Comment: This is surprising, as Jews have traditionally been pro-immigration. Perhaps 9/11 changed many minds; it certainly has caused me to rethink my views on immigration.

31. Which one of the following qualities do you consider most important to your Jewish identity?
Being part of the Jewish people 41
Religious observance 16
Support for Israel 6
A commitment to social justice 19
Something else 17
Not sure 2

Comment: The philosophy of Reconstructionism, which focuses on Judaism as an evolving religious civilization with an emphasis on peoplehood, has apparently won a smashing victory in the battle to define Jewish identity, soundly beating both religious observance and “a commitment to social justice.”

37. Looking ahead over the next several years, do you think that anti-Semitism in the United States will increase greatly, increase somewhat, remain the same, decrease somewhat, or decrease greatly?
Increase greatly 10
Increase somewhat 39
Remain the same 42
Decrease somewhat 7
Decrease greatly 1
Not sure 1

Comment: Anti-Semitism has been steadily decreasing the U.S. for sixty years. But being a Jew often means being a bit paranoid, and for good historical reason.

38. In your opinion, what proportion of each of the following groups in the United States is anti-Semitic-most, many, some, very few, or none?
Most Many Some Very
few None Not
sure
a. Asians 2 3 41 39 9 6
b. Muslims 28 27 33 8 1 3
c. Hispanics 3 6 51 29 6 5
d. Blacks 6 15 55 18 4 3
e. The Religious Right 20 21 37 14 3 6
f. Catholics 5 9 59 21 3 3
g. Mainstream Protestants 4 8 57 24 3 4

Comment: Surveys I’ve seen show the “religious right” to be no more anti-Semitic than Americans generally, and certainly nothing approaching the likely figures for American Muslims (many of whom recently immigrated from countries where anti-Semitism is rampant) or, for that matter, American blacks or Hispanics, who have higher than average levels of anti-Semitism (I know I should find the relevant stats to link to, but I can’t right now; anyone care to help?). I’d wager, however, that only a small percentage of Jews actually know anyone in the religious right, and therefore are susceptible to both stereotypes and the constant fundraising letters from People for the American Way etc. Moreover, since a disproportionate percentage of American Jews are very liberal, they tend to overestimate the “evils” of any conservative grouping. Interesting that the survey didn’t ask about the “far left”, which seems far more anti-Semitic than the religious right.

You can read the full study here.

UPDATE: Reader Ronald Iltis provides a link to this 2002 ADL study of anti-Semitism in America, which confirms that both African-Americans and Hispanic Americans are far more anti-Semitic than are white Americans, and that “religion is not a driver of anti-Semitic propensities in the United States,” nor, contrary to those who see Klansmen lurking in every conservative organization is “political ideology.”

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