Home > News > Anti-Jewish attitudes have increased among anti-Israel Americans
203 views 5 min 0 Comment

Anti-Jewish attitudes have increased among anti-Israel Americans

But pro-Palestinian Americans still rate Jews more favorably than supporters of Israel rate Muslims.

- June 13, 2024

In a recent post, I wrote about the perils of conflating anti-Zionist sentiments with antisemitism. While there’s a significant correlation between the two, the relationship is complex and far from straightforward.

My analyses in that prior piece showed that feelings about Jews are much stronger predictors of Republicans’ views of Israel than Democrats’ opinions. I’ve similarly found that the correlation between antisemitic attitudes and opposition to Israel is dramatically weaker for younger Americans than it is for their older counterparts (stay tuned for a future post on that topic!)

To complicate matters even further, it’s unclear which direction the relationship between antisemitism and opposition to Israel goes. Many have suggested that hostility towards Jews inevitably leads to negative views of Israel. But it’s also quite plausible that strong opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza has led at least some people to harbor more antisemitic attitudes since October. 

How Americans’ views have changed

We can now glean some insights into this question thanks to the Democracy Fund’s Views of the Electorate Research Survey (VOTER). In partnership with YouGov, the unique data collection has interviewed and reinterviewed thousands of Americans since 2011. The latest VOTER survey from March 2024 interviewed a nationally representative sample of 6,000 Americans, nearly half of whom also participated in the September 2020 survey. 

Since these two surveys asked many of the exact respondents to rate how favorably they felt towards Jewish people on a 0 to 100 thermometer scale in both 2020 and 2024, we can determine how opinions of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict are associated with changing attitudes about Jews over the past four years.

antisemitism in America

The figure above does this by showing the change in Jewish thermometer ratings between 2020 and 2024 according to whether respondents felt more sympathetic to Israelis or to Palestinians in 2024. There was little change in Jewish thermometer ratings over the past four years among panelists who feel sympathetic towards Israel. 

But this figure does show declines in Jewish favorability ratings among those who are unsympathetic towards Israel. These ratings declined from 69 in 2020 to 61 in 2024 among panelists who feel more sympathy towards Palestinians than Israelis. The ratings fell from 65 to 58 among panelists who are unsympathetic towards both groups. 

As a result of these declines, the share who rated Jews unfavorably (e.g., a score of less than 50 on the thermometer scale) increased from 15% in 2020 to 24% in 2024 among pro-Palestinian panelists. The percentage who rated Jews unfavorably increased from 15% to 23% among those who aren’t sympathetic to either group.

Antisemitism and anti-Muslim attitudes

This rise in antisemitic attitudes is concerning, to be sure. These findings highlight the importance of eschewing rhetoric that collectively demonizes the Jewish people for the actions of the Israeli government. Indeed, the surge in antisemitism among anti-Israel Americans makes it all the more problematic when opponents utilize antisemitic narratives to criticize the Jewish state’s conduct.

But it’s also important to emphasize that, even with this rise in antisemitic attitudes, only a fraction (roughly one-quarter) of Americans who are more sympathetic to the Palestinians actually rate Jews unfavorably.

Moreover, the graph below shows that pro-Palestinian Americans still rated Jews more favorably than supporters of Israel rated Muslims.

antisemitism in America

On average, Americans who are more sympathetic to the Israelis rated Jews 76 on the thermometer scale while rating Muslims only 40. Americans who are more sympathetic to Palestinians, however, rated Muslims only slightly more positively than Jews (66 versus 61). That dovetails with several other surveys showing that anti-Muslim sentiments are far more widespread in the United States than anti-Jewish attitudes.

These findings, therefore, serve as a powerful reminder that our national conversation about Israel must keep both antisemitism and Islamophobia in mind. Yes, it’s important to forcefully condemn the alarming rise in explicitly anti-Jewish attitudes among opponents of Israel’s war in Gaza. But it’s equally important to reject the frequent use of anti-Muslim tropes in the Israel-Palestine discourse – especially since Islamophobic attitudes are particularly prevalent among supporters of Israel.