The Volokh Conspiracy

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"Anti-Semitic Propensities" by Race, According to the Anti-Defamation League


The news about one of the suspects in the Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket apparently having been a "Black Hebrew Israelite" who apparently"wrote anti-Semitic and anti-police posts," might surprise some who associate anti-Semitism with white nationalists and with extremist Islam or certain forms of Arab nationalism. But hostility to Jews seem to be materially more common among American blacks and American Hispanics than among American whites. (As one might gather, American Black Hebrew Israelites are blacks but not Hebrews or Israelites, at least under the conventional understandings of those terms; some are black supremacists.)

According to an October 2016 Anti-Defamation League survey, "anti-Semitic views" among black respondents were materially more common than among whites, with 23% of black respondents scoring high on the ADL's scale, compared to only 10% of whites. The results remain largely the same when aggregating the ADL's 6 surveys from 2007 to 2016; between that and the oversample of blacks and Hispanics among the 1532 respondents in 2016, the comparison seems likely to be pretty reliable.

Likewise, 31% of Hispanic immigrants score high on the ADL's scale, as do 19% of U.S.-born Hispanics, compared to 10% of whites. ("White" here presumably means "non-Hispanic white.")

Now the ADL's "anti-Semitic index" may be faulted in some measure; it is based on how many of the following statements a responded agrees with, with a high score being defined as at least 6 out of 11 (as the 2013 survey report indicates):

Jews stick together more than other Americans.
Jews always like to be at the head of things.
Jews are more loyal to Israel than America.
Jews have too much power in the U.S. today.
Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street.
Jews have too much power in the business world.
Jews have a lot of irritating faults.
Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.
Jewish business people are so shrewd that others don't have a fair chance at competition.
Jews don't care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
Jews are (not) just as honest as other business people.

Some of these sentiments might not necessarily reflect hostility to Jews; for instance, Jews may indeed in fact stick together more than other Americans—group solidarity is not uncommon among various ethnic groups and especially religious groups—and different people may view that negatively, positively, or neutrally. Likewise, while it's surely an exaggeration to say that Jews always "like to be at the head of things," it may well be both true and good that Jewish culture promotes more ambition and outspokenness than average. Some of the other sentiments may be hostile to Jews (e.g., "Jews are more loyal to Israel than America") but still be legitimate subjects for inquiry: I don't think American Jews are more loyal to Israel than America, or that such loyalty to another nation is an exclusive trait of Jews, but many Jews do feel a strong emotional link to Israel, and one can legitimately argue that this link may sometimes mislead them, even to America's detriment. And don't get Jews started on our having a lot of irritating faults …. But on balance, despite its limitations, this list seems like a reasonable basis for comparing the general tenor of attitudes among American whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

Of course, none of this can be generalized to all or even most blacks and Hispanics, any more than either the views of white anti-Semites can be generalized to all or most whites. For each group, those that the ADL labels as having especially high anti-Semitic propensities are a minority, and indeed (with the exception of among foreign-born Hispanics) a small minority. And of course even those who have anti-Semitic views will overwhelmingly not engage in crime against Jews.

But I think many people assume, both because of the high historical profile of the Nazis and the KKK, and because of the past images of WASP discrimination against Jews, that anti-Semitism in the U.S. is disproportionately a white phenomenon. Such an assumption, it appears, would be in error.

Credit: My coblogger David Bernstein first alerted me to this, by blogging about an earlier survey on the subject in 2014.

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  1. It's always interesting how the negative view of Jews, especially, so often make them out to be superior, as if simple jealousy is at the heart of anti-semitism. It makes me wonder if Hitler et al weren't the slightest bit puzzled how such a small minority (less than 1% of Germans, I think) could manage to control the entire nation. Same goes for Stalin et al blaming Jews for all their problems.

    Whereas most conventional racism makes the "enemy" out to be stupid, lazy, careless, and generally physically and mentally inferior.

    1. This is the Jew-reading-the-newspaper joke come to life, right? (One Jew sees a friend reading an anti-Semitic newspaper. "Abe," he says, "how can you read that dreck?" "I open a normal newspaper," Abe says, "and all I read about is Jews being attacked, Jews being killed, Jews having to flee. I read this one, and I see Jews own the media, Jews own the banks -- it's so much better!")

      1. Never heard that joke before, but I suppose it fits. Maybe I didn't articulate my thoughts very clearly. What I mean is, most bigotry seems to me to be of how blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc are all subhuman. Anti-Japanese racism before Pearl Harbor was all about how they had terrible vision, buck teeth, and were all a bunch of copycats who couldn't do anything original. Suddenly they became supermen, and that to me was unusual, because so much bigotry paints the target as subhuman.

        Maybe I have missed a lot of bigotry, being a white male, and have a warped view of real bigotry as perceived by its targets. Most of my perception is based on overhearing bigoted remarks and insults.

        1. One signature feature of bigotry is that it isn't rational. Bigots don't explore the internal contradictions of their beliefs.

          So they do end up believing precisely that [hated group] is stupid, subhuman, not entitled to basic equality while also believing that they are smart, conniving, conspiring against the bigot's group, etc.

          1. Nietzsche IIRC never reconciled Judaism as a worldview born under downtrodden, captured occupation, and therefore not very ubermannish, with the apparent belief in the superiority of it in controlling everything.

        2. Hostile views of groups necessarily view those groups as bad in some ways -- but the allegedly bad properties can differ from group to group (and from observer to observer), and can be mixed with properties that might otherwise be positive. Some such hostility can be "they're stupid" or "they're dishonest/conniving/selfishly controlling," but some can be "they're cunning and that helps them be dishonest/conniving/selfishly controlling."

        3. Actually, bigots often ascribe to their hated groups characteristics which would be viewed positively in others.

          Blacks are musically and athletically gifted.

          Jews are financially shrewd.

          Germans are meticulous, orderly, and disciplined.

          Japanese are great engineers.


    2. The problem is that we do have a bit of statistical bias working against us. We are generally over-represented in certain industries and public positions of power and influence. Ivy Leagues, news media, etc. Of course I despise that word "over" because it suggests that something is abnormal, but alas.

      It's actually an extremely common tactic of neo-Nazis to try and paint Jews as a monolith. And I mean paint very literally. The most recent trend involves "blueing" by staining blue Jews in pictures. That way you're supposed to see our elite cabal...or something. I actually find it funny because half of the time, they're just blueing someone with a Jewish-sounding name that isn't actually a practicing Jew, nor even one by birth or conversion.

      Not that I want to steer the discussion this way, but 2016 and Trump have really done wonders for helping remind everyone that Jews are not a monolith and there is no tribal conspiracy. Almost 25% of us (myself included) voted for Trump. We're less monolithic than Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and almost every other non-white Christian demographic, yet we're the ones most commonly believed to be conspiring against whites. And I can't help but laugh at that notion too, because bar certain sects of the Orthodoxy, you can't actually tell if someone is Jewish from just their looks. Of course we have a knack for guessing some things, but it's not 100% guaranteed. The point being that many people treat us as white, so any sort of outcome that disparages people for their skin comes back to get us too.

      1. I think the difference is that leftist Jews are far more leftist than conservative Jews are conservative. The overrepresentation of Jews in idiot liberal causes like gun control and immigration is why I left Judaism decades ago.

        1. You haven't been missed.

    3. Umm, the Nazi regime ended its use of IQ tests and other tests that were reasonable proxies thereof because German Jews were doing well on them. Its not interesting in the least. Its an explicit practice of that regime.

    4. You are basically correct in your interpretation. The superior-while-subhuman characterization was part of the Nazi propaganda, and tends to play into some, though not all, modern anti-semitism.

  2. Many of my coreligionists like to imagine that white gentile middle america is a hotbed of latent antisemitism always threatening to boil over.
    This stems from an understandable source (in part): cossacks, nazis etc. But much of it is ideologically driven woke white-bashing and unsquashed beef from grandpa and the WASP country club/law firm.

    While there have been several high-profile anti-semetic attacks by white nationalists, much of the day-to-day stuff consists of Hasids being knock-out-gamed by culprits who, erm, are hard to link to Trump.
    Similarly, in Europe, virtually all of the surge in antisemitism has been driven by refugees.
    Jews in Europe and Israel (and gays for that matter) are generally less supportive of immigration

    1. I don't think we can blame it all on the immigrants. Based on my anecdotal evidence and personal experiences, I'd say there is also a level of casual anti-semitism among native Europeans that would not be tolerated in corresponding circumstances in the US.

    2. Hasids being knock-out-gamed

      Um, this was a WND racist conspiracy theory.

        1. Read all the way through the entry, Brett.

          There's a whole section, but this is my favorite:
          On November 23, 2013, The New York Times reported that police officials in New York City were considering their position on the "game" and were wondering if they should advise the public, but had to contend with the uncertain existence of the game. Police in New York City questioned whether they were faced with a trend or a series of isolated incidents. Then-New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly refused to refer to the attacks in Brooklyn as the "knockout game" to avoid possible copycat attacks.

          The freaking NYPD isn't sure about this racial violence being an actual trend.

    3. “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.”

  3. I wouldn't agree at all with any of the statements in the list except #1. But Jewish people do stick together and I find it endearing. This used to be true of many other religious groups in the US much more than it is now; most people just don't go to church as much as they did then.

    I believe that nearly all hatred of Jews is simply envy. The exceptions, of course, being actual Nazis and Muslims, both of which have explicit goals of exterminating the Jews, and I believe those groups need to be watched. But Jews? They're not a threat to anybody.

    1. Jews are not a threat to anybody as Jews, but they are a threat to the West by using their outsized power and influence to promote leftist ideas. But I will agree that Jewish liberals are not any worse than non-Jewish white liberals. White liberals are evil monsters, whether they are Jewish or not.

      1. Ah yes, all those Jews like Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Israel Kirnzer, Milton Friedman, Walter Block, ..., and freakin' Tonie Nathan. Such a threat to the West with their leftist ideas.

        Go fuck yourself.

        1. You're a moron. For every Michael Savage and Milton Friedman, there are 100 Sally Kohns and Stephen Reinhardts.

    2. Yeah, lets compare Nazis with all of Islam. And say both groups should be watched.

      Sure to work out great.

  4. "Jews may indeed in fact stick together more than other Americans"

    Really? I'd like to see the evidence.

    From my outside perspective, if anything, there's a lot of infighting in the Jewish community, which even grew to a proverb about two Jews having three opinions.

    1. I think there are two strands here.

      The first are some of the orthodox communities, which are indeed highly insular.

      Second is the more "familial" type of solidarity. Sorta like how you can say whatever you want about your idiot, freeloading brother, but you'll beat the snot out of anyone outside the family who does the same.

      1. I'd say that if some anti-Semite denounced, for example, Paul Wolfowitz, then even the most ultra-progressive Jews would defend Wolfowitz from that specific attack. But in the context of a debate on Iraq, these same progressive Jews would vehemently denounce Wolfowitz - even "in front of the gentiles" - as a horrible warmonger.

        And vice-versa in the case of a progressive Jewish person being attacked.

        In other words, yes, if someone is attacked *for being Jewish,* other Jews will rally around that person, but if it's an argument about something else, like foreign policy or economics or whether Trump is horrible, then different Jews will take different positions and won't mind non-Jews overhearing the arguments.

        Yes, the more you're attacked for your group membership, the more inclined you are to stick together with other group members to repel the attacks. At least I'd *hope* Jews did that, if anything I'd be worried if they didn't.

        But when not attacked for being Jewish, they seem perfectly willing to argue with each other in public, even about the most basic of "Jewish" issues (Israel, religion, etc.).

        Such at least is my perhaps superficial impression.

        1. Being argumentative goes with the territory. It's a virtue, even if you are arguing with G-d, as, if I understand correctly, you are required to do if you think He is wrong. .

    2. We Arabs have a saying that may describe our fellow Semites:

      "Me against my brother. Me and my brother against my cousin. Me, my brother, and my cousin against the world!"

  5. But I think many people assume, both because of the high historical profile of the Nazis and the KKK, and because of the past images of WASP discrimination against Jews, that anti-Semitism in the U.S. is disproportionately a white phenomenon. Such an assumption, it appears, would be in error.



    But in actual numbers? Yeah, white antisemitics are going to out-number all others by a healthy margin. Because the US is 70% white.

    So yeah. Even if other racial/ethnic groups are disproportionately antisemitic, the average face of an antisemitic American is still a white face.

    1. Saw this just after I wrote below. In fact, 20% of the population is Hispanic, 13% black. So the US is more like 60% non-Hispanic white, and if blacks and Hispanics have double the rate of antisemitism, it will be about 50-50.

    2. EscherEnigma: According to the Census's 2016 data, 60.4% of Americans are white non-Hispanic, 18.3% are Hispanic, and 13.4% are black. (I don't have anti-Semitism attitude data for Asians and American Indians, so I don't include them here.) According to the ADL data, 10% of white Americans score high on the anti-Semitism numbers, as do 23% of black Americans, and 23% of Hispanics (19% among native-born, 31% among foreign-born, and assuming that 1/3 of Hispanics are foreign-born/).

      Crunching the numbers, this means that 6% of the population are non-Hispanic white anti-Semites (to use a shorthand term), 4.2% are Hispanic anti-Semites, and 3% are black anti-Semites. This means that, even assuming there are zero anti-Semites among Asians and American Indians, only 45% of anti-Semites are non-Hispanic whites.

      1. And if you stop the "one drop rule" nonsense? This kind of splitting hairs was invented to drum up panic that "whiteness" is disappearing. I'm not sure why you'd coddle it.

        1. EscherEnigma: I'm not sure I understand -- as I understand it, all the data isn't based on the "one drop rule," but on self-identification; in the surveys, and in the Census, people are listed as black, non-white Hispanic, or Hispanic (or as other groups) based on what they call themselves.

          1. “ But in actual numbers? Yeah, white antisemitics are going to out-number all others by a healthy margin. Because the US is 70% white.

            So yeah. Even if other racial/ethnic groups are disproportionately antisemitic, the average face of an antisemitic American is still a white face.”

            He seems to object to the fact that “whites” are a minority of anti-Semites. Strange worldview that requires a specific race to be the bigots, but in line with a lot of recent reporting.

            1. The numbers say that whites are a plurality of anti-semites, which is a minority of the total, but still means there is a larger absolute number than either Blacks or Hispanics looked at separately.

              An interesting question that probably cannot be answered is how many of each group belong to an organization or ideology espousing antisemitism that advocates the removal or elimination of Jews, as opposed to those folks who are "merely" prejudiced.

              I suspect, for example, that Hispanic antisemitism is more garden-variety prejudice, as unlike KKK and Black Hebrew Israelites, I know of no Hispanic organization that has antisemitism as a central plank of its ideology. If that is the case, then it may very well be that what one might call racialist or eliminationist antisemitism is more prevalent among the white and black population than Hispanics, who nevertheless have the highest measured proportion of negative attitudes. Most people are less concerned with folks who give them a dirty look, than those who want them dead, interned or deported.

  6. It's worth noting as an addendum that while blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be antisemitic, there are about twice as many whites as blacks and Hispanics combined, so if the rate of antisemitism as about double among the latter groups, there are still as many white antisemites in the U.S. as blacks and Hispanics combined. One would expect, therefore, the perps of antistemitic incidents to be about 50-50. However, given residential patterns (in particular, that few Jews live in overwhelmingly white rural areas), that may not be the case.

    1. As anecdotal evidence, my "in the wild" experience in the US, consisting of both urban and rural areas, matches more with the rate statistics than the absolute numbers, but that might be an artifact of confounding factors.

      I'm using "in the wild" in contrast to both the workplace, and to a much greater extent, university environments, which (IMO) are dominated by non-demographic, primarily political, considerations with respect to this sort of thing.

  7. But I think many people assume, both because of the high historical profile of the Nazis and the KKK, and because of the past images of WASP discrimination against Jews, that anti-Semitism in the U.S. is disproportionately a white phenomenon. Such an assumption, it appears, would be in error.

    I doubt that as "many people" as EV assumes, think the way he thinks they do. Reading EV's commentary over the years, I find a mix of plentiful focused insights into American culture, plus a few surprising blind spots. I cannot guess what accounts for the blind spots, except possibly his immigrant background, and maybe a lack of certain cultural/historical exposures during his own early residence in this country.

    One theme which seems to recur is EV's less-than-typical (for him) insight into Jim Crow era American norms and expectations, especially with regard to both southerners of all races, and about southern experience generally. Using this instance as example, anyone familiar with that time and place would likely know also that there exists a historical record of black distrust toward Jews—and not just in the south. The challenging mix of that historical pattern with new (but sometimes uneasy) alliances with northern Jews during the era of civil rights activism was a notable occurrence, and sometimes remarked upon at the time.

    I mention this not as criticism of anyone, but only as a curiosity regarding EV's always-interesting thought.

    1. Can you recall any of those blind spots specifically?

      I too have a vague recollection of such, but more specifically Professor Volokh sharing some interesting tidbit that was also often new to me, and I’d like to compare what you think is common knowledge (hence, blind spot) with what I think is common knowledge.

      For background, I had an extremely broad education so for many years my baseline assumption of what everybody knows was tremendously out of line, so I’m especially curious about how that aligns with your baseline.

      1. Robert, it is not a point I have the inclination to try to prove. More a curiosity. Make it a point to notice. See if I am right.

        On reflection, it may be that common sense about the Jim Crow era is less and less common as the folks who lived it die off. From my own experience (born 1946, youth in VA), I suggest that few eras or circumstances exist which are less amenable to reasonable insight. The unreason which sustained segregation (and Jim Crow violence) was so pervasive that it all but guaranteed disorientation among young people—and for most adults that confusion stuck around into old age. So I think hyper-rational sorts like Volokh are at a disadvantage. A lot of libertarians are hyper rationalists, too, and seem similarly disadvantaged.

  8. "Jews have a lot of irritating faults"-- that's certainly true..

  9. If saying one group has too little power, based on the factual percentage of powerful positions their group occupies compared to their percentage of the general population, is acceptable, does that make it a per se anti-semitic position to conclude that if, based on Jewish holding of powerful positions exceeding their percentage of the population, it would mean they therefore hold too much?

    If it's not factually accurate that Jewish individuals are overrepresented in power and I've been misled on that point, I would definitely like a correction on that.

    1. The false premise is that the diverse individuals can be collectivized into "group power." Are George Soros and Sheldon Adelson at all in the same group, other than by accident of birth? You think they get together to coordinate their activities? You think Trump advisor Steven Miller and Bernie Sanders are working toward a common goal? Do Greeks have too much power in the restaurant industry? Catholics, a minority in this country, are a majority of the Supreme Court. Do Catholics "have too much power"? Last I checked, all these folks belong to the group called "Americans" which ought to be good enough.

      And, just out of curiosity, when you conclude that some group has "too much power" what is your proposal to solve the problem?

  10. One sees this commonly in selective reporting. For example, black on white homicides are more than double white on black crimes in all years for the past 2 decades. Hippos kill more humans than crocodiles.

  11. While I can see see someone like me carefully parsing those questions and answering in factual ways that don't reflect group animosity (though, in the US, I think it's false that Jews particularly stick together) I think we can assume that these answers don't measure some careful factual evaluation but pretty accurately correspond to people's group animosity.

  12. And then we have GOP Congressmen criticizing a Democratic staffer for being "a New York lawyer."

    Doesn't fit into any of the categories above, but pretty damn sleazy regardless.

  13. Nazis, like many socialists, were notorious anti-Semites and the left-wing, globalist agenda is indistinguishable from the Nåzi agenda. Most people don't realize the truth about socialist and Nåzi policies, the left-wing propaganda about the Nåzi party being right-wing is TOTALLY false.

    The Nåzi party's full name is NAtional soZIalistische deutsche arbeiter partei - which literally translates from German as the National Socialist German Workers' Party. SOCIALIST? WORKERS? Like the socialist wing of the Democrats, Nazis are extreme left-wing, NOT right-wing.

    Not convinced? Adolf Hitler insisted he was a socialist - his socialist policies are how the Nazis got elected and reelected - while German Labor built a monument to him in Dorstfeld. Antifa's violence is just like Nazi Brownshirts, just look at their unmistakable socialist policies and then comment:

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