Survey gauges anti-Semitism

It’s common among the 18-to-34 age group. About a fourth believe Jews control the media and Wall St.

Anti-Semitism is widespread among America’s young adults, with a fourth believing Jews control the media and Wall Street, according to a survey released this week by a Jewish research group.

Another key finding is that 37 percent of American adults, or 65 million people, continue to believe Jews were responsible for killing Jesus.

The Institute for Jewish and Community Research, based in San Francisco, sampled 1,013 randomly selected adults from around the country and found anti-Semitism to be more common among younger adults than among baby boomers.

For instance, when asked if “Jews control the media,” 24 percent of people aged 18 to 34 agreed, versus 16 percent aged 35 to 54, 28 percent aged 55 to 64 and 32 percent 65 and older, institute president Gary Tobin said in a telephone interview yesterday.

The same pattern held when people were asked whether Jews “hold too much power on Wall Street” and “care only for themselves,” Tobin said.

The institute drew the conclusion of anti-Semitism because the questions asked about “not just influence on Wall Street but too much influence… . We entered the realm of pejoratives,” he said.

The survey was administered by International Communications Research, based in Media, Pa.

When respondents were asked if they agreed that “the Jews were primarily responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ,” 37 percent agreed, 47 percent disagreed, and 16 percent said they did not know.

The “Christ-killer” charge remains “a pervasive belief,” Tobin said. Black respondents were the most likely to believe it, with 49 percent registering agreement, he said.

That question had not been asked in any previous polls because “it is such a touchy thing,” Tobin said.

Historically, the “Christ-killer” charge has served as an ideological basis of anti-Semitism. The Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have repudiated it in the aftermath of the Holocaust, but many evangelical and fundamentalist Christian groups have not changed their belief that Jews were culpable, along with Pontius Pilate, for the Crucifixion.

The survey did not ask respondents for religious affiliations.

“If these results are true, they are pretty worrisome,” said Robert Wuthnow of Princeton University, an eminent sociologist of religion. “I think everybody assumed there wasn’t any anti-Semitism, so people quit asking questions about it.”

The Tobin survey is consistent with a survey the Anti-Defamation League released in June that found an increase in the number of Americans with anti-Semitic attitudes.

Contact Faith Life editor Jim Remsen at 215-854-5621 or