Sources and targets of anti-Semitism in the United States

Date of Completion

January 2009


Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Jewish Studies




While anti-Semitism has plagued our society, as well as many others, for millennia, anti-Semitism tends to be overshadowed in the social sciences by what is seen as more common forms of prejudice, discrimination, and racism. This tends to reinforce the erroneous view that anti-Semitism is not a significant social problem in modern-day America. The study of anti-Semitism must incorporate its uniqueness as a social problem and as a form of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, most vividly demonstrated in the Holocaust, and take into consideration its history as well as its particular characteristics. This study seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the relationship between a number of sociological and social psychological variables, e.g., age, gender, region of residence, city size, religious affiliation, religiosity, race, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, and political views, and anti-Semitism; (2) What is the relationship between anti-Semitism and a number of other racist and prejudiced attitudes; and (3) How do individual and community-level factors relate to the perception or experience of anti-Semitism by Jews. This study focuses upon the prevalence and nature of anti-Semitism as it exists in the contemporary United States. Specifically, this research consists of five components: (1) a factor analysis of anti-Semitic attitudes, (2) a regression analysis of the predictors of anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States, (3) a regression analysis of the relationship between anti-Semitism and prejudiced attitudes toward other minorities, and (4) a regression analysis of the predictors of the experience of anti-Semitism on the individual level as well as (5) on the community level. Data sources for this research consists of the following: the General Social Survey, used in components one through three; the 2000–2001 administration of the National Jewish Population Survey, used in component four; and a number of community studies on the Jewish population, used in component five. These analyses will serve not only to expand our understanding of anti-Semitism but also to test several theories of prejudice. Finally, this study will conclude with a series of policy implications whose aim it will be to reduce the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the United States. ^