Who is for the Jews? Left or Right?

Over at Red State Erick Erickson implies that the Left is anti-Semitic by way of the JournoList story:

It makes for an interesting conversation. Apparently, many of the lefties don’t much care for Olbermann either. And they hate Marty Peretz, considering him a racist, which we all know is code for “Jewish” among this group of typically America haters who, many of them at least, tend to not exactly like Jews when they are being candid.

Let’s set aside the fact that the individual who runs JournoList, Ezra Klein, is Jewish by background, and so are some of Peretz’s most vociferous critics on the list, such as Eric Altermann, Matthew Yglesias and Spencer Ackerman. It still gives me an excuse to look into the GSS and see if there is a noticeable Left-Right trend in terms of attidues toward Jews.


403f. Do people in these groups tend to be patriotic or do they tend to be unpatriotic? 2. Jews



122. I’d like to get your feelings toward groups that are in the news these days. I will use something we call the feeling thermometer, and here is how it works: I’ll read the names of a group and I’d like you to rate that group using the feeling thermometer. Ratings between 50 degrees and 100 degrees mean that you feel favorable and warm toward the group. Ratings between 0 degrees and 50 degrees mean that you don’t feel favorable toward the group and that you don’t care too much for that group. e. Jews



409. Some people think that certain groups have too much influence in American life and politics, while other people feel that certain groups don’t have as much influence as they deserve. On this card are three statements about how much influence a group might have. For each group I read to you, just tell me the number of the statement that best says how you feel. b. Jews



738. Since the beginning of our country, people of many different races, nationalities, and religions have come here and settled. As I name some of these groups please tell me if the group has made one of the most important positive contributions to this country, an important contribution, some contribution, or little positive contribution to this community. d. Jews


I limited the above sample to whites. In any case the sample sizes aren’t very large on some of these questions, but I don’t see a strong trend toward anti-Semitism on the Left. In fact when I did a regression with JEWTEMP, which had the largest sample sizes, and threw in politics, race, religion, income, degree, etc., a shift toward the political Right was positively correlated with a “lower temperature” to Jews (statistically significant). Most of the other variables didn’t pan out except for education, which was enormously correlated with positive attitudes toward Jews, with a weight as about twice as big as politics. It looks like graduate school is Good For the Jews.

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12 Responses to Who is for the Jews? Left or Right?

  1. Pingback: » liberals are less anti-semitic than cons … Talk Islam

  2. outeast says:

    Not exactly a surprise, really… I would expect to see significant left/right correlated differences wrt attitudes to Israel and Palestine, but I think for reasons other than antisemitism. No idea where the more libertarian-minded would fall on that issue, though…

  3. Don Kenner says:

    I read some of their sterling commentary (courtesy of Slate) and was gobsmacked at the sheer stupidity and childishness of the comments (though to be fair, this Journolist is exactly the kind of place where people tend to vent). Anti-Semitic? Other than the leftist tendency to view any Jewish supporter of Israel who criticizes Arabs/Muslims as defacto a raving racist, I didn’t see evidence of (at least) classic anti-Semitism. But this particular type of bigotry tends to morph into different forms depending on times.

    The bar is set pretty low for these folks. One commentator seemed to be saying that by using the word “illegals” Peretz was undeniably a crazy racist, even though Peretz was referring to them as “hard working.” The border and the Mid East are two issues where you magically become a racist just by not taking the lefty position. Pretty silly.

  4. Susan says:

    I have zero scientific evidence to support this, but it’s my observation that Jews who identify as cultural Jews rather than religious Jews tend to be moderately to very leftwing, and the official leftwing position is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. (Rabidly anti-Israel in some cases.) Religious Jews tend strongly to support Israel, and tend toward more conservative views in other areas as well.

    Again, I emphasize that this is just my own observation. (And I do know a few liberal Jews who support Israel.) But when I see Jews publically declaring their support for people who want to kill them, and who have loudly and often expressed that intent, I wonder to what extent allegiance to leftwing politics has trumped common sense and even self-preservation. What’s going on here? Denial or cognitive dissonance?

  5. Susan, that’s my observation too. But I take issue with this:

    “But when I see Jews publically declaring their support for people who want to kill them, and who have loudly and often expressed that intent”

    My experience is that they don’t “support people that want to kill them.” Rather, that Israel’s policies are counterproductive and border on human rights violations. I’ve never heard any of my Jewish acquaintances proclaim suicide bombers as freedom fighters, for example.

    Saying they “support the people that want to kill them” is akin to saying Iraq war opponents hate America. Which not-so-coincidentally is the kind of thing Red Staters say.

  6. Susan says:

    Derek,I’m in academe, so my acquaintance with the loony left is unusually broad. I actually have heard Jewish colleagues refer to suicide bombers as freedom fighters.

  7. David Hume says:

    yes, i think there is a tendency to conflate anti-zionism with anti-semitism. of course the two aren’t exclusive, and there’s probably a spectrum of attitudes & combinations.

  8. Pingback: Secular Right » Israel, gentile & Jews

  9. brent says:

    I think everybody in charge of anything out in the Middle East is pretty much a total remorseless jerk, so I guess that makes me a literal anti-Semite. (If there were any Aramaeans or Phoenicians left, I probably wouldn’t think too highly of them either.)

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  11. Chris says:

    a shift toward the political Right was positively correlated with a “lower temperature” to Jews (statistically significant)
    Altemeyer could have told you that. This site may have a libertarian bent, but many people on the right are authoritarian rightists, who are not generally friendly toward “outsider” groups.

    Overall, I think the most striking result is how little negative opinion there is of Jews *as a people* (or at least, that people were willing to admit to – this may be partially self-censorship as negative attitudes toward Jews are very strongly stigmatized). Contrast surveys that show considerable criticism of the Israeli *government* and its actions and policies and it becomes clear that there is more going on than “Jews = Israel”. (Especially when much of that criticism is actually coming from Jews.)

  12. LH says:

    I propose that before discussing this issue that you consider the following questions?
    1. Who and what is a Jew?
    (There is no consensus here; and Jews in general are not divided between “cultural Jews” and “religious Jews.”)
    2. Is Israel a secular political entity/nation-state or Jewish theocray? (It’s a secular entity. In fact, more than twenty percent of Israelis are not Jews, and most Jews there are not Orthodox. BTW, Zionism was a secular nationalist movement
    3. What exactly is “anti-Semitism” and what is “Zionism” in today’s world and is “anti-Semitism”=anti-Zionism.
    Two items: a. Classical Zionism calls on all Jews to “return” to Zion. Most of them are not doing that. Are they non-Zionists? b. Le Pen-style anti-immigration parties exhibit both traditional anti-Semitic as well as anti-Muslim and pro-Israeli tendencies.
    4. Please define “political right” and “political left?”
    Historically, what was defined as the political right in Europe and U.S. had strong anti-Jewish tendencies.
    5. Is being critical of the policies of country X turns you into an “anti-X?”
    Were critics of Bush’s invasion of Iraq “anti-Americans?”
    4. What percentage of American-Jewish community are Orthodox Jews and what percentage voted for Obama?
    About ten percent of American-Jews are Orthodox and most of them voted for McCain.
    The point is that Republican support for the most extreme Israeli policies is not going to convince most American-Jews to jump on the Republican bandwagon. And criticizing those policies doesn’t make you an “anti-Semite.”

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