Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
The murder of 11 Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was followed by the release of an FBI publication, which reported that 60 percent of all religiously biased hate crime incidents in 2017 were anti-Jewish. This far exceeded the figures for other religions. These incidents and other manifestations of antisemitism necessitate an analysis of the main stereotypes of Jews in the United States.
Statistics show that the main antisemitic hate motif worldwide is that Diaspora Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries. The Global 100 study released by the ADL in 2014 found that 30 percent of adult Americans believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the US. Thus, 75 million Americans believe this antisemitic stereotype. In 2015, the figure was even somewhat higher.
The Global ADL study also found that the false accusation of dual loyalty is the main international antisemitic stereotype. Forty-one percent of the world’s population included in this survey believe it to be true.
The accusation that Jews are not loyal to the country they live in existed long before the State of Israel was founded, and there were a number of variations on this theme. One version was that Jews were a people without a motherland, and were only loyal to other Jews. That provided a convenient base for the accusations of treason and subsequent conviction in 1894 of French officer Alfred Dreyfus. As a Jew, he was the ideal candidate to blame for espionage against France, which had actually been committed by a non-Jewish officer.
Once Jews are accused of dual loyalty, the step to the next stereotype is not far: Jews want to control the world. The 2014 global ADL study showed that 29 percent of those interviewed worldwide believed that Jews have too much power over global affairs. In the US, a 2015 ADL study revealed that 16 percent of the country’s population — or 40 million Americans — believed that Jews have too much power in the business world. The same number of Americans thought that Jews have too much power in international financial markets. Twelve percent of the population were of the opinion that Jews have too much control over the US government, while the same number thought that Jews have too much control over the global media. And 25 million American adults believed that Jews have too much control over global affairs.
Under the Obama administration, a substantial disagreement occurred between the US and Israel regarding the Iranian nuclear agreement. Senator Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, voted against it, and was then accused of being more loyal to Israel than to America. Jews often fear being accused of dual loyalty when one of them makes a major misstep. The most extreme case was Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel. He is the only person to have received a life sentence for spying on the US on behalf of an ally.
It is easy to show that on basic issues of great importance to Israel, the dual loyalty accusation is a major falsehood. So far, Donald Trump has been the most pro-Israel US president. If there was dual loyalty of Jews, the great majority of American Jews should be supporting him. In 2016, 71 percent of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, as compared to 48 percent of the national vote. Only 24 percent of Jews voted for Trump.
Finding intelligent ways to expose the false double loyalty claims against Jews may be the beginning of a new type of fight against antisemitism.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a Senior Research Associate at the BESA Center and a former chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He specializes in Israeli–Western European relations, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism, and is the author of The War of a Million Cuts.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.