Robust debate has been centering on whether the political far-right or “woke” left is more guilty of and responsible for antisemitism, which is reportedly on the rise. New research from the United Kingdom suggests that a different factor more accurately predicts whether a person will espouse antisemitic views.
“Some conspiracy theories are more common on the right, while others are more common on the left,” Daniel Allington, a social scientist at King’s College London, told JNS. “The kinds of conspiracy belief that we found to have the closest relationship to antisemitism are very slightly more common on the right, but the difference is tiny.”
Allington and colleagues at two other London colleges co-authored a new paper, which was published in Nature and that relied upon two surveys, with a combined 2,662 adults.
The researchers found that “ethnicity, support for totalitarian government, belief in malevolent global conspiracies and anti-hierarchical aggression” were the most accurate predictors of antisemitism.
But positive associations with totalitarian regimes predicted just what the scholars called “old” antisemitism—that is anti-Jewish hatred—while the other factors predicted both “old” and “new” antisemitism. The researchers defined the latter as “anti-Zionist antisemitism.”
“This finding adds nuance to ongoing debates about whether antisemitism is more prevalent on the political right or left,” the scholars wrote. At least in the United Kingdom, “it is instead associated with a conspiracy theory view of the world, a desire to overturn the social order and a preference for authoritarian forms of government—all of which may exist on the right, the left and elsewhere.”
Although the co-authors found similar levels of antisemitism on the left and right, Allington told JNS that “it tends to be expressed differently.” Antisemitism on the right are likelier to believe that Jews have too much control over the media and that they could not be friends with Jews, while Jew-haters on the left are more likely to say that the media favors Israel too much and that they could not befriend a Zionist.
He dismissed whether the left or right is worse, when it comes to antisemitism, as unhelpful.
“The important thing is to challenge antisemitic ideas regardless of whether we consider the people expressing them to be allies or adversaries,” said Allington in his interview with JNS.
What the public can draw from the research and act upon, according to Allington, is to “call these tendencies out and argue against them whenever they appear in public.”
“Life is hard, but not because powerful people got together in secret and decided to make it that way,” said Allington.
In the future, Allington plans to study the impact that education has on antisemitism.
“More highly educated people tend to give less antisemitic answers to survey questions, despite the open circulation of antisemitic ideas in many universities,” said Allington. “Is that just because they want to give a good impression of themselves to researchers? Or is it because critical thinking helps them to see through the propaganda that they’re exposed to?”
“I hope it’s the latter, but at the moment, we just don’t know,” he said.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
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