An interesting survey of real-world American antisemitism published in The Tablet.
The usual ADL approach is to ask a series of questions about traditional Jewish stereotypes and throw in things like “Do Jews have too much power” to measure antisemitism. That’s a valid approach, but limited, and your usual lefty is going to find it awkward to answer affirmatively to that.
For the most part, these studies measure anti-Semitism simply by asking respondents how they feel about Jews, or by asking whether they agree with blatantly anti-Semitic stereotypes. But educated people, being experienced test takers, know these to be “wrong” answers.
For instance, a recent survey designed to gauge anti-Semitism on college campuses was based on respondents’ level of agreement with statements like “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” or “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.” Sophisticated respondents may be more likely to detect what they are being asked and give socially desirable answers that might fail to reveal a more nuanced degree of anti-Semitism. The belief that anti-Semitism is associated with lower levels of education may therefore be a function of who gets caught by surveys, rather than based on an accurate relationship between education and antipathy toward Jews.
And it doesn’t really do much to measure antisemitism in the real world.
Real-world bigotry isn’t just about prejudices or dislikes, it’s about policy. For example, how do you react to BLM protests vs. Orthodox Jewish funerals during a pandemic. In other words, do you actually discriminate or supporting discriminating against Jews more than other people?
That’s the approach here and the results are an indictment of the higher-education complex.
For reasons we explain below, we focused on four of the seven items to generate our measure of anti-Semitism. The first item asks whether “the government should set minimum requirements for what is taught in private schools,” with Orthodox Jewish or Montessori schools given as the illustrating example. The second item asks whether “a person’s attachment to another country creates a conflict of interest when advocating in support of certain U.S. foreign policy positions,” with Israel or Mexico offered as illustrating examples. The third item asks whether “the U.S. military should be allowed to forbid” the wearing of religious headgear as part of the uniform, with a Jewish yarmulke or Sikh turban offered as illustrating examples. And the fourth item asks whether public gatherings during the pandemic “posed a threat to public health and should have been prevented,” with Orthodox Jewish funerals or Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests offered as illustrating examples.
The first of these items asked whether Israel’s Basic Law is “discriminatory” when it says that “the state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.” The non-Jewish version of this item asked about the provision in the Danish constitution that says “The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the Established Church of Denmark, and, as such, it shall be supported by the State,” or the provision in the Jordanian constitution that says “Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language.” The second item asked about whether scholars from Israel or China should be subject to academic boycotts “to protest human rights violations by those countries’ governments.” And the third asked about whether professors should be fired for denying the Holocaust or for criticizing immigrants.
Post-grads were absolutely the most bigoted in these responses.
We found that respondents with higher education levels are markedly more likely than those with lower education levels to apply a double standard unfavorable toward Jews. Across the four items in which the Jewish and non-Jewish versions of questions seemed the most similar, and which the overall sample answered roughly in the same way, subjects with college degrees were 5 percentage points more likely to apply a principle harshly to Jews than to non-Jews. Among those with advanced degrees, subjects were 15 percentage points more unfavorable toward Jewish than non-Jewish examples.
Post-grads are also the likeliest to be leftists. And the discrimination is blatant.
People with advanced degrees were 12 percentage points more likely to support the military in prohibiting a Jewish yarmulke than in prohibiting a Sikh turban as part of the uniform.
Unlike Israel, there’s no “political issue” here. It’s a basic question of freedom of religion. And yet post-grads are more likely to discriminate against Jews in such a basic scenario.
When their actual political agendas are involved, the discrimination is out of sight.
People with advanced degrees were 36 percentage points more likely to want Orthodox Jewish funerals prohibited than BLM protests.
Where I take a little bit of issue is with the conclusions.
Third, our strategies for addressing intolerance in general, and anti-Semitism in particular, tend to revolve around the belief that group-hatred is caused by ignorance, and that the solution is more education. Yet if more-highly educated people are more hostile with respect to Jews, higher educational levels and more courses and training could increase prejudice, rather than diminish it.
At the very least, it seems that an education that simply provides information about historical events, civil liberties, and other cultural groups is insufficient. Addressing anti-Semitism and prejudice more generally may require the cultivation of virtue. Specifically, it requires the formation of a kind of character that is not only familiar with other outgroups and democratic norms, but also has the integrity to behave in ways that demonstrate consideration of their interests and restraint in the use of political power in the pursuit of personal interests.
It’s overall a good response. I think that arguing for a society where politically active people have “the integrity to behave in ways that demonstrate consideration of their interests and restraint in the use of political power in the pursuit of personal interests”
But the missing link here is the question of why antisemitism rises with education levels.
Jealousy is plausible. Jews are overrepresented at higher academic levels which means that resentment of Jews is more likely to be a feature of those academic environments. Academics on the far-right, like Kevin MacDonald, can more overtly push those messages, but lefty academics can’t claim that Jews are genetically programmed to out-compete them. At least not generally, unless you’re Cornel West. So they use safe forms of politically correct antisemitism to cover what is really careerism.
But education is the black hole here. If people become more antisemitic as their education level rises, that suggests that the system of higher education itself indoctrinates antisemitism.
If a similar survey were done that demonstrated racism against black people rises with education levels, that’s what we would conclude.
The inescapable reality is that higher education is antisemitic.