October 29, 2009 / 3:05 PM / 10 years ago

Poll finds U.S. anti-Semitic views at historic low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States are at a historic low, with 12 percent of Americans prejudiced toward Jews, an Anti-Defamation League survey found on Thursday.

The U.S. civil rights group said the level of anti-Semitism matched that of 1998 as the lowest in the 45-year history of the poll.

Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said the poll results could simply be attributed to the United States becoming “a more accepting society.”

“At the same time there continues to be violence targeting Jews and an increasing use of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” Foxman said in a statement. “We can’t dismiss that 12 percent of the American people means that there are still over 30 million Americans that hold anti-Semitic views.”

When the poll was first conducted in 1964, it found 29 percent of Americans held anti-Semitic views.

The telephone survey of 1,200 adults, conducted between September 26 and October 4, showed men were more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than women, and that anti-Semitic tendencies among black Americans were higher than among the rest of the population.

“Remarkably, since 1964, approximately 30 percent of Americans have consistently believed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America even though the makeup of the U.S. population has changed dramatically,” the survey said.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent and relied on an anti-Semitism index developed by the Anti-Defamation League and the University of California more than 45 years ago.

The index includes 11 statements used to gauge respondent’s anti-Semitic propensities. Those who agree with six or more of the index statements are considered to have anti-Semitic attitudes.

Some of the statements are: Jews have too much power in the United States today, Jews have a lot of irritating faults, Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want and Jewish business people are so shrewd that others don’t have a fair chance at competition.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney

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