horseshoe theory

New ADL poll: Antisemitism closely tied to receptivity to conspiracy theories

The survey found that people who hold common far-left and far-right beliefs are much more likely to embrace anti-Jewish tropes

Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO & national director, speaking at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

The two leading predictors of antisemitic belief are conspiratorial thinking and the notion that some groups in society should be more dominant than others, according to a poll by the Anti-Defamation League released on Thursday that looked at how antisemitism has changed in scope, nature and implications in the wake of unprecedented levels rising in the U.S. since Oct. 7.

The poll also found that maintaining a belief system that divides the world into “oppressors” and “oppressed” strongly correlates with antisemitism.

The survey, which polled 4,143 U.S. adults from Jan. 5-18, found that younger generations endorse more anti-Jewish views. Asked the extent to which Americans agreed with 11 different statements about antisemitic tropes used to measure anti-Jewish attitudes since 1964, as well as statements about Israel, millennial respondents agreed with the greatest number of anti-Jewish tropes on average, at 5.37. Gen Z followed closely behind at 5.01, while Gen X averaged 4.19 and Baby Boomers 3.06.

According to the data, respondents who fall in the upper quartile of conspiracy theory belief endorsed over twice as many anti-Jewish tropes, on average, as those least predisposed to conspiracy theories.

Accepting anti-Jewish rhetoric was also found to correlate significantly with “social dominance orientation,” a worldview typically associated with the far-right, which believes there are superior groups who ought to dominate lower-status groups. 

The survey provided the example that “respondents who at least somewhat agreed with the statement that some groups of people are inferior to other groups were 3.6 times more likely to fall in the top quartile of anti-Jewish trope belief compared to those who did not.”   

The survey also found that people who believe that the world is divided between those who are oppressed and those who are oppressors — a common belief among far-left activists — also featured elevated levels of antisemitism. They were 2.6 times more likely to endorse the largest share of antisemitic tropes.

The survey appears to confirm the so-called horseshoe theory of antisemitism, that the far-left and the far-right are not on opposite sides of the spectrum but instead are nearly touching.

The survey also found that 27% of Americans would find it at least somewhat acceptable for a close family member to support Hamas, while 24% of Americans said they have a close friend or family member who dislikes Jews.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, called the findings “shocking” in a statement. 

“After decades of antisemitism mostly keeping to the fringes of society, it is shocking to see the number of Americans who openly hold antisemitic beliefs increase so significantly in recent years,” Greenblatt said. “And the sharp reversal, from older generations to younger generations being more likely to hold antisemitic beliefs, is a terrifying concern for our future. The need for better solutions is more urgent than ever – before this dangerous momentum keeps growing.”

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