Antisemitism in the United States

Antisemitism has existed in the United States for centuries. In the United States, most Jewish community relations agencies distinguish between antisemitism, measured in terms of attitudes and behaviors; and the security and status of American Jews, measured by specific incidents. Antisemitic incidents have been on a generally decreasing trend in the last century consistent with a general reduction of socially sanctioned racism in the United States, especially since World War II and the Civil Rights Movement. Cultural changes from the 1960s onward into the 21st century have caused a large shift in general attitudes such that, in recent years, most Americans surveyed express positive viewpoints regarding Jews.[1] An ABC News report in 2007 recounted that about 6% of Americans reported some feelings of prejudice against Jews.[2] According to surveys by the Anti-Defamation League in 2011, antisemitism is rejected by clear majorities of Americans, with 64% of them lauding Jews' cultural contributions to the nation in 2011, but still a minority holding hateful views of Jews remain, with 19% of Americans supporting the antisemitic canard that Jews co-control Wall Street.[3] Holocaust denial has also only been a fringe phenomenon in recent years; As of April 2018 96% of Americans believe the Holocaust occurred.[4]

American viewpoints on Jews and antisemitism

Roots of American attitudes towards Jews and Jewish history in America

Krefetz (1985) asserts that antisemitism of the 1980s seems "rooted less in religion or contempt and more in envy, jealousy and fear" of Jewish affluence, and of the hidden power of "Jewish money".[5] Historically, antisemitic attitudes and rhetoric tend to increase when the United States is faced with a serious economic crisis.[6] Academic David Greenberg has written in Slate, "Extreme anti-communism always contained an anti-Semitic component: Radical, alien Jews, in their demonology, orchestrated the Communist conspiracy." He also has argued that, in the years following World War II, some groups of "the American right remained closely tied to the unvarnished anti-Semites of the '30s who railed against the 'Jew Deal'", a bigoted term used against the New Deal measures under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[7] American anti-Semites have viewed the fraudulent text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a real reference to a supposed Jewish cabal out to subvert and ultimately destroy the U.S.[8]


The most persistent form of antisemitism has been a series of widely circulating stereotypes that construct Jews as socially, religiously, and economically unacceptable to American life. They were made to feel marginal and menacing.[9]

Martin Marger writes "A set of distinct and consistent negative stereotypes, some of which can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages in Europe, has been applied to Jews."[10] David Schneder writes "Three large clusters of traits are part of the Jewish stereotype (Wuthnow, 1982). First, [American] Jews are seen as being powerful and manipulative. Second, they are accused of dividing their loyalties between the United States and Israel. A third set of traits concerns Jewish materialistic values, aggressiveness, clannishness."[11]

Some of the antisemitic canards cited by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) in their studies of U.S. social trends include the claims that "Jews have too much power in the business world", "Jews are more willing to use shady practices to get what they want", and "Jews always like to be at the head of things". Other issues that garner attention is the assertion of excessive Jewish influence in American cinema and news media.[1]

Statistics of American viewpoints and analysis

Polls and studies over the past two decades point to a steady decrease in antisemitic attitudes, beliefs, and manifestations among the American public.[1][12] A 1992 survey by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) showed that about 20% of Americans — between 30 and 40 million adults — held antisemitic views, a considerable decline from the total of 29% found in 1964. However, another survey by the same organization concerning antisemitic incidents showed that the curve has risen without interruption since 1986.[12]

The number of Americans holding antisemitic views declined markedly six years later when another ADL study classified only 12 percent of the population—between 20 and 25 million adults—as "most antisemitic." Confirming the findings of previous surveys, both studies also found that African Americans were significantly more likely than whites to hold antisemitic views, with 34 percent of blacks classified as "most antisemitic," compared to 9 percent of whites in 1998.[12] The 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews in America, a national poll of 1,600 American adults conducted in March 2005, found that 14% of Americans—or nearly 35 million adults—hold views about Jews that are "unquestionably antisemitic," compared to 17% in 2002, Previous ADL surveys over the last decade had indicated that antisemitism was in decline. In 1998, the number of Americans with hardcore antisemitic beliefs had dropped to 12% from 20% in 1992.

"What concerns us is that many of the gains we had seen in building a more tolerant and accepting America seem not to have taken hold as firmly as we had hoped," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While there are many factors at play, the findings suggest that antisemitic beliefs endure and resonate with a substantial segment of the population, nearly 35 million people."

The 2005 survey found "35 percent of foreign-born Hispanics" and 36 percent of African-Americans hold strong antisemitic beliefs, four times more than the 9 percent for whites".[13]

The 2005 Anti-Defamation League survey includes data on Hispanic attitudes, with 29% being most antisemitic (vs. 9% for whites and 36% for blacks); being born in the United States helped alleviate this attitude: 35% of foreign-born Hispanics, but only 19% of those born in the US.[13]

The survey findings come at a time of increased antisemitic activity in America. The 2004 ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents reported that antisemitic incidents reached their highest level in nine years. A total of 1,821 antisemitic incidents were reported in 2004, an increase of 17 percent over the 1,557 incidents reported during 2003.[14]

A 2009 study entitled "Modern Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israeli Attitudes", published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009, tested new theoretical model of anti-Semitism among Americans in the Greater New York area with 3 experiments. The research team's theoretical model proposed that mortality salience (reminding people that they will someday die) increases anti-Semitism and that anti-Semitism is often expressed as anti-Israel attitudes. The first experiment showed that mortality salience led to higher levels of anti-Semitism and lower levels of support for Israel. The study's methodology was designed to tease out anti-Semitic attitudes that are concealed by polite people. The second experiment showed that mortality salience caused people to perceive Israel as very important, but did not cause them to perceive any other country this way. The third experiment showed that mortality salience led to a desire to punish Israel for human rights violations but not to a desire to punish Russia or India for identical human rights violations. According to the researchers, their results "suggest that Jews constitute a unique cultural threat to many people's worldviews, that anti-Semitism causes hostility to Israel, and that hostility to Israel may feed back to increase anti-Semitism." Furthermore, "those claiming that there is no connection between antisemitism and hostility toward Israel are wrong."[15]

The 2011 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America released by the ADL found that the recent world economic recession increased some antisemitic viewpoints among Americans. Abraham H. Foxman, the organization's national director, argued, "It is disturbing that with all of the strides we have made in becoming a more tolerant society, anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vice-grip on a small but not insubstantial segment of the American public." Specifically, the polling found that 19% of Americans answered "probably true" to the assertion that "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street" while 15% concurred with the related statement that Jews seem "more willing to use shady practices" in business. Nonetheless, the survey generally reported positive attitudes for most Americans, the majority of those surveyed expressed philo-Semitic sentiments such as 64% agreeing that Jews have contributed much to U.S. social culture.[3]

An ABC News report in 2007 recounted that past ABC polls across several years have tended to find that about 6% of Americans self-report prejudice against Jews as compared to about 25% being against Arab Americans and about 10% against Hispanic Americans. The report also remarked that a full 34% of Americans reported "some racist feelings" in general as a self-description.[2]

Different Community Perceptions

African-American community

Surveys conducted by the ADL in 2007, 2009, and 2011 all found that the large majority of African-Americans questioned or rejected antisemitism and expressed the same kind of generally tolerant viewpoints as the rest of the Americans who were surveyed. For example, their 2009 study reported that 28% of African-Americans surveyed displayed antisemitic views while a 72% majority did not. However, those three surveys all found that negative attitudes towards Jews were stronger among African-Americans than among the general population at large.[16]

According to earlier ADL research, going back to 1964, the trend that African-Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to hold antisemitic beliefs across all education levels has remained over the years. Nonetheless, the percentage of the population holding negative beliefs against Jews has waned considerably in the black community during this period as well. An ADL poll from 1992 stated that 37% of African-Americans surveyed displayed antisemitism;[1] in contrast, a poll from 2011 found that only 29% did so.[16]

Personal backgrounds play a huge role in terms of holding prejudiced versus tolerant views. Among black Americans with no college education, 43% fell into the most antisemitic group (versus 18% for the general population) compared to that being only 27% among blacks with some college education and just 18% among blacks with a four-year college degree (versus 5% for those in the general population with a four-year college degree). That data from the ADL's 1998 polling research shows a clear pattern.[1]

Despite the high level of Jewish participation in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the Black power movement introduced a considerable amount of friction into African American–Jewish relations.

In a 1967 New York Times Magazine article entitled "Negroes are Anti-Semitic Because They're Anti-White," the African-American author James Baldwin sought to explain the prevalence of black antisemitism.[17] Although the 1998 ADL survey found a strong correlation between education level and antisemitism among African Americans, blacks at all educational levels were still more likely than whites to accept anti-Jewish stereotypes. These have figured prominently in the rhetoric of some influential black leaders, most notably in the rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.

Nation of Islam

A number of Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, Muslim organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic. Specifically, they claim that the Nation of Islam has engaged in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and exaggerates the role of Jews in the Atlantic slave trade.[18] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges that NOI Health Minister, Abdul Alim Muhammad, has accused Jewish doctors of injecting blacks with the AIDS virus.[19]

In December 2012, the Simon Wiesenthal Center put the NOI leader Louis Farrakhan on its list of the ten most prominent antisemites in the world. He was the only American to make the list. The organization cited statements that he had made in October of that year claiming that "Jews control the media" and "Jews are the most violent of people".[20]

The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of antisemitism,[21] and leader Minister Louis Farrakhan has stated, "The ADL... uses the term 'anti-Semitism' to stifle all criticism of Zionism and the Zionist policies of the State of Israel and also to stifle all legitimate criticism of the errant behavior of some Jewish people toward the non-Jewish population of the earth."[22]

Avowed American antisemites

The famous radio preacher and radical Catholic priest Charles Coughlin was a prominent American antisemite.[8][23][24] He played a major role in inspiring the group known as the Christian Front, an organization described by PBS as an "underground army that attacked Jews in the streets of New York and elsewhere." Coughlin's passionate antisemitism led to him being ejected from the America First Committee, despite the fact that he shared the organisation's goal to keep the U.S. out of World War II.[24] Despite his demagogic fame involving praise of Adolf Hitler's rule in Nazi Germany,[8] Coughlin sometimes denied that he supported antisemitism by saying that he wanted "good Jews" to be with him.[23] Coughlin's hateful preaching was strongly denounced by publications such as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as well as by prominent American Catholics such as Frank J. Hogan, the then president of the American Bar Association.[23] Previously an obscure figure, Coughlin picked up an audience that was around 40 million strong at its peak, but the entrance of the U.S. into the fight against the Axis powers and the surge of anti-Nazi sentiment destroyed his success, leading him back into obscurity.[8]

Henry Ford

In the early 1920s, Henry Ford sponsored a weekly newspaper that published strongly anti-Semitic views. At the same time, his Ford Motor Company had a reputation as one of the few major corporations actively hiring black workers, and was not accused of discrimination against Jewish workers or suppliers. He also hired women and handicapped men at a time when doing so was uncommon.[25]

In 1918, Ford's closest aide and private secretary, Ernest G. Liebold, purchased an obscure weekly newspaper for Ford, The Dearborn Independent. The Independent ran for eight years, from 1920 until 1927, with Liebold as editor. Every Ford franchise nationwide had to carry the paper and distribute it to its customers.

During this period, Ford emerged as "a respected spokesman for right-wing extremism and religious prejudice", reaching around 700,000 readers through his newspaper.[26] The 2010 documentary film Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ira Berkow) states that Ford wrote on May 22, 1920: "If fans wish to know the trouble with American baseball they have it in three words—too much Jew."[27]

In Germany, Ford's antisemitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World's Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several antisemitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as "one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters".[28] Ford is the only American mentioned favorably in Mein Kampf, although he is only mentioned twice:[29] Adolf Hitler wrote, "only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews'] fury, still maintains full independence...[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions." Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his "inspiration", explaining his reason for keeping Ford's life-size portrait next to his desk.[30] Steven Watts wrote that Hitler "revered" Ford, proclaiming that "I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany", and modeling the Volkswagen, the people's car, on the Model T.[31] Max Wallace has stated "History records that ... Adolf Hitler was an ardent Anti-Semite before he ever read Ford's The International Jew."[32] Under Ford, the newspaper also reprinted the antisemitic fabricated text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[33]

On February 1, 1924, Ford received Kurt Ludecke, a representative of Hitler, at home. Ludecke was introduced to Ford by Siegfried Wagner (son of the composer Richard Wagner) and his wife Winifred, both Nazi sympathizers and antisemites. Ludecke asked Ford for a contribution to the Nazi cause, but was apparently refused.[34]

While Ford's articles were denounced by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the articles explicitly condemned pogroms and violence against Jews, but blamed the Jews for provoking incidents of mass violence.[35] None of this work was written by Ford, but he allowed his name to be used as author. According to trial testimony, he wrote almost nothing. Friends and business associates have said they warned Ford about the contents of the Independent and that he probably never read the articles (he claimed he only read the headlines).[36] Court testimony in a libel suit, brought by one of the targets of the newspaper, alleged that Ford did know about the contents of the Independent in advance of publication.[37]

A libel lawsuit was brought by San Francisco lawyer and Jewish farm cooperative organizer Aaron Sapiro in response to the antisemitic remarks, and led Ford to close the Independent in December 1927. News reports at the time quoted him as saying he was shocked by the content and unaware of its nature. During the trial, the editor of Ford's "Own Page", William Cameron, testified that Ford had nothing to do with the editorials even though they were under his byline. Cameron testified at the libel trial that he never discussed the content of the pages or sent them to Ford for his approval.[38] Investigative journalist Max Wallace noted that "whatever credibility this absurd claim may have had was soon undermined when James M. Miller, a former Dearborn Independent employee, swore under oath that Ford had told him he intended to expose Sapiro."[39]

Michael Barkun observed:

That Cameron would have continued to publish such anti-Semitic material without Ford's explicit instructions seemed unthinkable to those who knew both men. Mrs. Stanley Ruddiman, a Ford family intimate, remarked that "I don't think Mr. Cameron ever wrote anything for publication without Mr. Ford's approval."[40]

According to Spencer Blakeslee:

The ADL mobilized prominent Jews and non-Jews to publicly oppose Ford's message. They formed a coalition of Jewish groups for the same purpose and raised constant objections in the Detroit press. Before leaving his presidency early in 1921, Woodrow Wilson joined other leading Americans in a statement that rebuked Ford and others for their antisemitic campaign. A boycott against Ford products by Jews and liberal Christians also had an impact, and Ford shut down the paper in 1927, recanting his views in a public letter to Sigmund Livingston, ADL.[41]

Wallace also found that Ford's apology was likely, at least partly, motivated by a business that was slumping as result of his antisemitism repelling potential buyers of Ford cars.[37] Up until the apology, a considerable number of dealers, who had been required to make sure that buyers of Ford cars received the Independent, bought up and destroyed copies of the newspaper rather than alienate customers.[37]

Ford's 1927 apology was well received. "Four-Fifths of the hundreds of letters addressed to Ford in July 1927 were from Jews, and almost without exception they praised the industrialist."[42] In January 1937, a Ford statement to the Detroit Jewish Chronicle disavowed "any connection whatsoever with the publication in Germany of a book known as the International Jew."[42]

According to Pool and Pool (1978),[43] Ford's retraction and apology (which were written by others) were not even truly signed by him (rather, his signature was forged by Harry Bennett), and Ford never privately recanted his antisemitic views, stating in 1940: "I hope to republish The International Jew again some time."

In July 1938, before the outbreak of war, the German consul at Cleveland gave Ford, on his 75th birthday, the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.[30] James D. Mooney, vice president of overseas operations for General Motors, received a similar medal, the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, First Class.[30][44]

On January 7, 1942, Ford wrote a letter to Sigmund Livingston as the Founder and National Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League. The purpose of the letter was to clarify some general misconceptions that he subscribed or supported directly or indirectly, "any agitation which would promote antagonism toward my Jewish fellow citizens." He concluded the letter with "My sincere hope that now in this country and throughout the world when the war is finished, hatred of the Jews and hatred against any other racial or religious groups shall cease for all time."[45]

Distribution of The International Jew was halted in 1942 through legal action by Ford, despite complications from a lack of copyright.[42] It is still banned in Germany. Extremist groups often recycle the material; it still appears on antisemitic and neo-Nazi websites.

Testifying at Nuremberg, convicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach who, in his role as military governor of Vienna, deported 65,000 Jews to camps in Poland, stated:

The decisive anti-Semitic book I was reading and the book that influenced my comrades was ... that book by Henry Ford, The International Jew. I read it and became anti-Semitic. The book made a great influence on myself and my friends because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success and also the representative of a progressive social policy.[46][47]

Robert Lacey wrote in Ford: The Men and the Machines that a close Willow Run associate of Ford reported that when he was shown newsreel footage of the Nazi concentration camps, he "was confronted with the atrocities which finally and unanswerably laid bare the bestiality of the prejudice to which he contributed, he collapsed with a stroke – his last and most serious."[48] Ford had suffered previous strokes and his final cerebral hemorrhage occurred in 1947 at age 83.[49]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In 1923, while serving on the Harvard Board of Overseers, Franklin D. Roosevelt established a quota to limit the number of Jewish students admitted to Harvard.[50]

In 1937 Roosevelt nominated U.S. Senator, and former Ku Klux Klan member, Hugo Black to the US Supreme Court. Shortly after Black's appointment to the Supreme Court, Ray Sprigle of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a series of articles revealing Black's involvement in the Klan, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.[51] At a press conference on Sept 14 1937, Roosevelt was asked about whether he had knowledge of Black's involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. He responded in part, "I know only what I have read in the newspapers…Mr. Justice Black is abroad. Until such time as he returns there is no further comment to be made."[52] On Sept 21 1937, FDR was again asked during a press conference about whether or not he had communications with Hugo Black regarding his involvement in the Ku Klux Klan. Again, FDR denied speaking with Hugo Black, and when asked about whether the Department of Justice should be "charged automatically" with investigating Supreme Court appointments, FDR said in part, "No, certainly not...a man's private life is supposed to be his private life."[53]

In 1939 Roosevelt refused to grant over 900 Jewish refugees who had escaped from Nazi Germany aboard the MS St. Louis entry into the United States. Prohibited from landing in Cuba, St. Louis with 907 refugees[54] headed towards the United States. Captain Schröder circled off the coast of Florida, hoping for permission to enter the United States. Despite direct appeals to the White House, Roosevelt refused to accept the Jews. Captain Schröder considered running the ship aground along the East Coast to allow the refugees to escape, but US Coast Guard vessels were sent to shadow the ship and prevent such a move. The ship returned to Europe and the refugees were eventually permitted entry into the United Kingdom.[55]

In 1943, Roosevelt told French military leaders at the Casablanca Conference that "the number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions”" in liberated North Africa "should be definitely limited", lest there be a recurrence of "the understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely, that while they represented a small part of the population, over fifty percent of the lawyers, doctors, school teachers, college professors, etc, in Germany, were Jews."[56][57]

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

According to Harvey Klemmer, who served as an embassy aide in London, ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. habitually referred to Jews as "kikes or sheenies". Kennedy allegedly told Klemmer that "[some] individual Jews are all right, Harvey, but as a race they stink. They spoil everything they touch."[58] When Klemmer returned from a trip to Germany and reported the pattern of vandalism and assaults on Jews by the Nazis, Kennedy responded, "Well, they brought it on themselves."[59]

On June 13, 1938, Kennedy met with Herbert von Dirksen, the German ambassador to the United Kingdom, in London, who claimed upon his return to Berlin that Kennedy had told him that "it was not so much the fact that we want to get rid of the Jews that was so harmful to us, but rather the loud clamor with which we accompanied this purpose. [Kennedy] himself fully understood our Jewish policy."[60] Kennedy's main concern with such violent acts against German Jews as Kristallnacht was that they generated bad publicity in the West for the Nazi regime, a concern that he communicated in a letter to Charles Lindbergh.[61]

Kennedy had a close friendship with Viscountess Astor and their correspondence is replete with anti-Semitic statements.[62] According to Edward Renehan:

As fiercely anti-Communist as they were anti-Semitic, Kennedy and Astor looked upon Adolf Hitler as a welcome solution to both of these "world problems" (Nancy's phrase)..... Kennedy replied that he expected the "Jew media" in the United States to become a problem, that "Jewish pundits in New York and Los Angeles" were already making noises contrived to "set a match to the fuse of the world".[63]

By August 1940, Kennedy worried that a third term for U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would mean war. As Leamer reports, "Joe believed that Roosevelt, Churchill, the Jews, and their allies would manipulate America into approaching Armageddon."[64] Nevertheless, Kennedy supported Roosevelt's third term in return for Roosevelt's promise to support Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. in a run for Governor of Massachusetts in 1942.[65] However, even during the darkest months of World War II, Kennedy remained "more wary of" prominent American Jews, such as Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, than he was of Hitler.[66]

Kennedy told the reporter Joe Dinneen:

It is true that I have a low opinion of some Jews in public office and in private life. That does not mean that I..... believe they should be wiped off the face of the Earth..... Jews who take an unfair advantage of the fact that theirs is a persecuted race do not help much..... Publicizing unjust attacks upon the Jews may help to cure the injustice, but continually publicizing the whole problem only serves to keep it alive in the public mind.

George S. Patton

U.S. Army General George S. Patton expressed anti-Semitic views in letters home to his wife and in his personal diary entries he crudely and bluntly expressed his feelings about Jews. More importantly, his actions reflected those views. Though he commanded many Jewish soldiers, Patton refused to permit Jewish chaplains in his headquarters. When after the war as military governor of Bavaria he was tasked with running the displaced persons camps in southern Germany he kept emaciated, Holocaust survivors under military guard. With food scarce and malnutrition rampant, Patton refused to provide extra rations to Jewish survivors lest he be seen as giving them preferential treatment over his German prisoners of war.[67] As he noted in his diary:

Today we received orders…in which we were told to give the Jews special accommodations. If for Jews, why not Catholics, Mormons, etc.?”

In a letter to General Eisenhower discussing a report by Earl G. Harrison, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law whom President Truman had sent to Germany to inspect the displaced persons camps, the incensed president noted that "We appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of SS troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy."[67]

Patton wrote in his September 15, 1945 diary entry:

Evidently the virus started by Morganthau and Baruch of a Semitic revenge against all Germans is still working…. Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals.

Patton went on to state that the Jews had “no sense of human relationships” and lived in filth like “lazy locusts.” He wrote that:

I know the expression ‘lost tribes of Israel’ applied to the tribes which disappeared – not to the tribe of Judah from which the current sons of bitches are descended. However, it is my personal opinion that this too is a lost tribe – lost to all decency.

In another diary entry, dated September 17, 1945, Patton writes about taking General Eisenhower on a tour of a makeshift synagogue set up by Holocaust survivors to commemorate Yom Kippur:

This happened to be the feast of Yom Kippur, so they were all collected in a large, wooden building, which they called a synagogue. It behooved General Eisenhower to make a speech to them. We entered the synagogue, which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. When we got about halfway up, the head rabbi, who was dressed in a fur hat similar to that worn by Henry VIII of England and in a surplice heavily embroidered and very filthy, came down and met the General…. The smell was so terrible that I almost fainted and actually about three hours later lost my lunch as the result of remembering it…. Of course, I have seen them since the beginning and marveled that beings alleged to be made in the form of God can look the way they do or act the way they act.

Patton not only showed utter contempt, even hatred, for Jewish Holocaust survivors, he also expressed a kind of admiration for the Nazi prisoners of war under his watch and bitterly criticized the process of denazification, or the removal of former Nazi party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power in Germany. In 1945 he told reporters that he did not see the need for “this denazification thing” and compared the controversy over Nazism to a “Democratic and Republican election fight.” [68] His press statements questioning the policy resulted in Eisenhower’s relieving Patton of command in Bavaria.

Richard Nixon

Former President Richard Nixon's antisemitism has been heavily documented, with academic David Greenberg noting Nixon's historical "reputation as a hateful, vindictive anti-Semite".[7] Nixon believed that "[m]ost Jewish people are insecure" and "that's why they have to prove things."[69] In addition, he expressed paranoia that a "Jewish cabal" at the Bureau of Labor Statistics manipulated economic data against him, and he ordered the creation of a secret tally of Jews within the agency.[7] Nixon at one point alleged that Jews were behind the proliferation of cannabis usage in America, exclaiming, "...every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews..."[70]

Although mostly kept in private, rumors about Nixon's viewpoints hurt him somewhat politically and also exasperated colleagues such as Arthur Burns, the then Federal Reserve chairman who found Nixon's talk odious.[7] Nixon told his adviser Charles Colson that "[t]he Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality." He also suggested that Jews as a group were unwilling to serve in the military and more likely to desert, claiming that "I didn't notice many Jewish names coming back from Vietnam on any of those lists; I don't know how the hell they avoid it". Nixon additionally said, "If you look at the Canadian-Swedish contingent, they were very disproportionately Jewish. The deserters."[69] He and his aides seemed to make a distinction between Israeli Jews, whom Nixon at least partly admired, and American Jews.[69] However, Nixon used actions by specific Jews that he had heard about to reinforce his belief that the whole group deserved his scorn and hatred.[7]

Billy Graham

During the Watergate affair, there were suggestions that Billy Graham had agreed with many of President Richard Nixon's antisemitic opinions, but he denied them and stressed his efforts to build bridges to the Jewish community. In 2002, the controversy was renewed when declassified "Richard Nixon tapes" confirmed remarks made by Graham to Nixon three decades earlier.[71] Captured on the tapes, Graham agreed with Nixon that Jews control the American media, saying "This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," during a 1972 conversation with Nixon, and suggesting that if Nixon was re-elected, they might be able to do something about it. In the conversation Nixon mentioned that Graham was a friend of the Jews. Graham responded "But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country."[72]

When the tapes were made public, Graham apologized[73][74] and said, "Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon ... some 30 years ago. ... They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks."[75] According to Newsweek magazine, "The shock of the revelation was magnified because of Graham's longtime support of Israel and his refusal to join in calls for conversion of the Jews."[74]

In 2009, more Nixon tapes were released, in which Graham is heard in a 1973 conversation with Nixon discussing a Libyan airliner that had been shot down by Israeli Air Force and an upcoming visit by Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir. In the conversation Graham referred to Jews and "the synagogue of Satan" and told Nixon, "They're the ones putting out the pornographic literature. They're the ones putting out these obscene films."[76] A spokesman for Graham said that Graham has never been an antisemite and that the comparison (in accord with the context of the quotation in the Book of Revelation[77]) was directed specifically at those claiming to be Jews, but not holding to traditional Jewish values.[78]

Holocaust denial in the United States

Austin App, a German-American La Salle University professor of medieval English literature, is considered the first major American Holocaust denier.[79] App wrote extensively in newspapers, periodicals, and wrote a couple books detailing his defense of Nazi Germany and Holocaust denial. App's work inspired the Institute for Historical Review, a California center founded in 1978 whose sole task is the denial of the Holocaust.[80]

One of the new forms of antisemitism is the denial of the Holocaust by revisionist historians and neo-Nazis.[81] Holocaust denial serves as a powerful conspiracy theory uniting otherwise disparate fringe groups.

A survey done in 1994 by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that denial was only a tiny fringe position, with 91% of respondents agreeing with the validity of the Holocaust and only 1% saying it was possible that the holocaust had never happened.[82]

Antisemitic organizations

There are a number of antisemitic organizations in the United States, some of them violent, that emphasize white supremacy. These include Christian Identity Churches, White Aryan Resistance, the Ku Klux Klan, and the American Nazi Party, among others. Several fundamentalist churches, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, also preach antisemitic messages . The largest neo-Nazi organizations are the National Nazi Party and the National Socialist Movement . Many of these antisemitic groups shave their heads and tattoo themselves with Nazi symbolism such as swastikas, SS, and "Heil Hitler" . Antisemitic groups march and preach antisemitic messages throughout America.[83]

The 1998 ADL survey also found a correlation between antisemitism and sympathy for right-wing anti-government groups . Although antisemitism has declined over the past 35 years, the activities of some antisemitic groups have intensified, possibly as a result of the increasing marginalization of antisemitic viewpoints . From 1974 to 1979, membership in the Ku Klux Klan rose from a historic all-time low of 1,500 to 11,500, and throughout the 1980s various Klan factions allied themselves with more explicitly neo-Nazi groups like the Aryan Nations.

The founding (1978) of the California-based Institute for Historical Review helped popularize the antisemitic notion that the Holocaust was a hoax . During the mid-1980s, groups like the Posse Comitatus (organization) espoused antisemitic rhetoric . From 1986 to 1991 the numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads grew tenfold, reaching approximately 3,500 distributed among more than 35 cities . And the mid-1990s saw the formation of paramilitary citizens' "militias", many of which were accused of circulating antisemitic conspiracy theories and preaching religious bigotry .

New antisemitism

In recent years some scholars have advanced the concept of New antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the Far Left, the far right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and argue that the language of Anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack the Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and attribute this to antisemitism.

In the context of the "Global War on Terrorism" there have been statements by both the Democrat Ernest Hollings and the Republican Pat Buchanan that suggest that the George W. Bush administration went to war in order to win Israel supporters. During 2004, a number of prominent public figures accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of tricking America into war against Saddam Hussein to help Israel. U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina) claimed that the US action against Saddam was undertaken 'to secure Israel.' Television talk show host Pat Buchanan said a 'cabal' had managed 'to snare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests.'[84] Hollings wrote an editorial in the May 6, 2004 Charleston Post and Courier, where he argued that Bush invaded Iraq possibly because "spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats."

Regarding the 2016 US presidential election, James Kirchick in Commentary wrote:

While it’s certainly true that most of Trump’s supporters are neither racists nor anti-Semites, it appears to be the case that all of the racists and anti-Semites in this country (and many beyond) support Trump.[85]

Criticism of "new antisemitism" findings in the United States

Noted critics of Israel, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, question the extent of new antisemitism in the United States. Chomsky has written in his work Necessary Illusions that the Anti-Defamation League casts any question of pro-Israeli policy as antisemitism, conflating and muddling issues as even Zionists receive the allegation.[86] Finkelstein has stated that supposed "new antisemitism" is a preposterous concept advanced by the ADL to combat critics of Israeli policy.[87]

Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has argued that the concept of a "new antisemitism" is essentially false since it is in fact an alternative form of the old antisemitism of previous decades, which he believes remains latent at times but recurs whenever it is triggered. In his view, the current trigger is the Israeli situation; if a compromise making ground in the Arab-Israeli peace process were achieved, he believes that antisemitism would decline but not disappear.

Anti-semitism on college campuses

On April 3, 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced its finding that incidents of antisemitism are a "serious problem" on college campuses throughout the United States. The Commission recommended that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights protect college students from antisemitism through vigorous enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and further recommended that Congress clarify that Title VI applies to discrimination against Jewish students.[88]

In February 2015, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law and Trinity College [89] presenting results from a national survey of American Jewish college students. The survey had a 10-12% response rate and does not claim to be representative. The report showed that 54% of the 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide who took part in the online survey reported having experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the Spring semester of the last academic year.

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students provided a snapshot of the types, context, and location of anti-Semitism as experienced by a large national sample of Jewish students at university and four-year college campuses.[90] Inside Higher Ed focused on the more surprising findings of the report, like the fact high rates of anti-Semitism also were reported at institutions regardless of location or type of institution, that the data from the survey suggest that discrimination occurs in low-level, everyday interpersonal activities, and that Jewish students feel their reports of anti-Semitism are largely ignored by the administration.[91] However, not all reception was positive, with The Forward arguing that the study documented only a snapshot in time rather than a trend, that it did not have a representative sample of Jewish college students and that it was flawed because it allowed students to define anti-Semitism (leaving the term open to interpretation).[92]

Hate crimes against Jews in the U.S.

  Private residence (22%)
  College Campus (7%)
  Jewish Institution / School (11%)
  Non-Jewish School (12%)
  Public area (35%)
  Private Building / Area (12%)
  Cemetery (1%)

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published in April 2014 an audit of antisemitic incidents occurring the previous year, with the results finding a decline of 19% for 2013 as part of an about a decade-long slide in attacks. 751 incidents were reported across the U.S., made up of 31 physical assaults, 315 incidents of vandalism, and 405 cases of harassment.[93]

In April 2015, ADL published its 2014 audit of antisemitic incidents. According to it, 912 such incidents took place across the U.S. during 2014. This represented a 21% rise from the year before. 513 incidents were classified as "[h]arassments, threats and events". 35% of the vandalism incidents occurred in public areas. A review of the results showed that during operation Protective Edge there was a significant increase in the number of antisemitic incidents, compared to the rest of the year. As usual, the highest totals of antisemitic incidents were found in states where there is a large Jewish population: New York State – 231 incidents, California – 184 incidents, New Jersey – 107 incidents, Florida – 70 incidents. In all these states, more antisemitic incidents were counted in 2014 than in the previous year.[94]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) organizes Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) designed to collect and evaluate statistics of offenses committed in the U.S. For 2014, 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes were listed, of which 56.8% were motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish biases. 15,494 law enforcement agencies contributed to the UCR analysis.[95][96]

See also


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Further reading

  • Buckley, William F. In Search of Anti-Semitism, New York: Continuum, 1992
  • Carr, Steven Alan. Hollywood and anti-Semitism: A cultural history up to World War II, Cambridge University Press 2001
  • Dershowitz, Alan M. Chutzpah 1st ed., Boston: Little, Brown, c1991
  • Dinnerstein, Leonard. Antisemitism in America, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994
  • Dinnerstein, Leonard Uneasy at Home: Antisemitism and the American Jewish Experience, New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.
  • Dolan, Edward F. Anti-Semitism, New York: F. Watts, 1985.
  • Extremism on the Right: A Handbook New revised edition, New York: Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1988.
  • Flynn, Kevin J. and Gary Gerhardt The Silent Brotherhood: Inside America's Racist Underground, New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, c1989
  • Ginsberg, Benjamin The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, c1993
  • Hate Groups in America: a Record of Bigotry and Violence, New rev. ed. New York: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, c1988
  • Hirsch, Herbert and Jack D. Spiro, eds. Persistent Prejudice: Perspectives on Anti-Semitism, Fairfax, Va.: George Mason University Press; Lanham, MD: Distributed by arrangement with University Pub. Associates, c1988
  • Jaher, Frederic Cople A Scapegoat in the Wilderness: The Origins and Rise of Anti-Semitism in America, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994
  • Lang, Susan S. Extremist Groups in America, New York: F. Watts, 1990
  • Lee, Albert Henry Ford and the Jews, New York: Stein and Day, 1980
  • Lipstadt, Deborah E. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, New York: Free Press; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1993
  • Rausch, David A. Fundamentalist-evangelicals and Anti-semitism, 1st ed. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1993
  • Ridgeway, James Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads and the Rise of a New White Culture, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990
  • Roth, Philip The Plot Against America, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2004
  • Tobin, Gary A. and Sharon L. Sassler Jewish Perceptions of Antisemitism, New York: Plenum Press, c1988
  • Volkman, Ernest A Legacy of Hate: Anti-Semitism in America, New York: F. Watts, 1982
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