A new study is casting doubt on the idea, held by some but not most American Jews, that antisemitism is just as prevalent on the far left as it is on the far right. Though far more American Jews consider the far right as the greater antisemitic threat, some academics and Jewish leaders have embraced horseshoe theory — the idea the opposite ends of an ideological spectrum are similar — and applied it to antisemitism.
Though the Anti-Defamation League, for example, has identified the far right as far more threatening to American Jews, its leader, Jonathan Greenblatt, has compared far-left critics of Israel as the “photo inverse” of the extreme right.
While antisemitism on the right tends to focus on conspiracy theories about Jews being disloyal to white people or rejecting conservative values, on the left it’s often tied to blaming Jews for actions undertaken by Israel.
A paper published in June in the journal Political Research Quarterly found that anti-Jewish beliefs are far more popular in right-wing circles, particularly among young people.
The results show that “there’s a problem on the young right,” said study author Eitan Hersh, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University. “It’s very interesting and, I think, concerning that we have this rare form of prejudice that is more common among young people and old people. It’s kind of shocking because if you look at other forms of prejudice, like racism, sexism, anti-gay attitudes, they’re just way higher among older people than younger people.”
For the study, a survey was sent to 3,500 American adults, 2,500 of them between the ages of 18 and 30. Respondents were asked to reply to a series of questions, such as whether they believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than the U.S.; if it’s appropriate to boycott Jewish-owned businesses to protest Israeli policies, and whether Jews have too much power. They were also asked questions to test for a double standard. For instance, one question would ask whether Jews who want to participate in activism must first denounce Israeli actions against Palestinians, and then a similar question was posed about Muslims denouncing a Muslim country’s actions.
Hersh said he was surprised by the results. Those on the left were less likely than even political moderates to believe Jews were more loyal to Israel. They were also less likely than moderates to think Jews have too much power or that boycotting Jewish businesses to protest Israel was acceptable. Young adults who held the most conservative views were almost five times more likely to say it was acceptable to boycott Jewish businesses than those on the farthest left and almost 10 times more likely to say Jews had too much power. [Continue reading…]