American antisemitism on the rise

01.22.03

The San Francisco Chronicle has released some disturbing poll results that show increasing antisemitic attitudes among Americans (via Sharkblog).

The poll results indicate, among other things, that:

  • Nearly one third of Americans fear that a Jewish president may have divided loyalties when dealing with the state of Israel. (This apparently relates to the announcement by Senator Joseph Lieberman that he will seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2004).
  • Nearly one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 believe that Jewish control of the media distorts the news.
  • Twenty percent of Democrats and Independents tend to “view Jews as caring only about themselves,” compared to only 12 percent among Republicans.
  • 34 percent of Americans agree that “Jews have too much influence on Wall Street.
  • 37 percent believe that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus Christ.

The poll results were disturbing to Gary Tobin, President of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco:

Gary Tobin, the president of the institute, said the results appear to reverse a post-World War II and post-Holocaust trend of declining anti- Semitism in America.

The academic survey of 1,013 randomly selected adults was conducted from May 2-7, 2002. But Tobin suspects that the trend has only deepened since then because of the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the buildup toward a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“We’re not saying that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic,” Tobin said.

“But college campuses have become bastions of anti-Israelism. In places like Berkeley or Santa Cruz, the demonstrators’ signs say ‘Stop Israel’ and ‘Stop the Jews.’ That’s what we picked up in this survey.”

To me, it’s appalling that Tobin even had to include the disclaimer about not saying that all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. That he had to say that at all indicates that Jews everywhere are on the defensive – about Israel, about our beliefs, our politics, and our identity.

This defensiveness is precisely what the existence of the State of Israel was supposed to eliminate. Zionism instilled a sense of pride in being Jewish, and all over the world, Jews no longer had to hide or be ashamed of their heritage. At least that was the theory.

The poll results are showing the opposite trend, though. And it’s scary as hell.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Meryl Yourish 01.23.03 at 4:48 PM

I think Zionism’s purpose was to have a nation where they can’t just take Jews out of their houses, line them up against a wall, and shoot them. The pride in being Jewish has to come from within, not without.

I’m not worried yet. But since moving to a place where Jews aren’t nearly as big a part of the population–from the NY area to Richmond, VA–I’ve noticed a fair amount of differences.

Nothing to be worried about. It’s just–different.

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