One in five adult Americans holds anti-Semitic views, survey says

November 17, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK -- Anti-Semitism has been slowly declining over the last 28 years, but one in five adult Americans still holds deeply prejudicial views of Jews, the Anti-Defamation League reported yesterday as it released a survey of race relations in the United States.

The poll by the Boston firm of Marttila and Kiley conducted for the ADL of B'nai B'rith showed that anti-Semitism is most prevalent among people who are over 65 years of age, have a high school education or less and are blue-collar workers.

The latest data underscored the fact the vast majority of Americans reject most anti-Semitic stereotypes, but there remains a core of about 35 million to 40 million people who are unquestionably prejudiced.

"The good news is fewer Americans than 28 years ago harbor anti-Semitic attitudes," said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director. "The bad news is that an ugly and more dangerous element -- political rather than social -- has begun to take hold in the United States.

"We're here to say a great deal has changed for the better, but there is still much that is troubling."

Mr. Foxman said that he was particularly troubled by the findings that 31 percent of those questioned said that Jews have too much power in the United States today and that 35 percent believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.

Black Americans (37 percent) are more than twice as likely as whites (17 percent) to fall into the survey's "most anti-Semitic" category. This marked a decline from a similar poll in 1964 that found 45 percent of blacks showing a clear prejudice against Jews.

As part of the survey, people were asked about the beating by police in Los Angeles of Rodney G. King -- was it an unusual incident that is not typical of police behavior toward blacks or does this kind of brutality toward blacks happen quite often? Fully 70 percent said that they believed it happens often.

At a news conference with Mr. Foxman as the survey's findings were made public, pollster John Marttila said that the results showed "America is a more tolerant country than it was 28 years ago. . . . Anti-Semitic beliefs in all segments of society, including black Americans, is going down."

He said the 1992 survey refuted the widespread notion that college-educated blacks were more anti-Semitic than less educated black Americans.

Among those blacks without any college education, 46 percent were in the most anti-Semitic group. The number dropped to 27 percent among those who have attended or graduated from college.

The survey of 1,400 people, conducted last May, also said that there is little difference in the propensity for anti-Semitism among religious groups. Christian fundamentalists were not significantly more likely to accept anti-Semitic attitudes than other Americans.

The poll had a margin of error of 3 percent.

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