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Anti-Semitism Declines in U.S. According to ADL Survey

Anti-Semitism among Americans has decreased slightly in the last 2 years. That was the finding of a recent survey sponsored by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the world's leading organization aimed at fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry around the world.

The 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Towards Jews was based on a national poll of 1,600 American adults conducted in March. According to the survey, 14% of Americans, or approximately 35 million individuals, hold anti-Semitic views. That's 3% less than the same poll indicated in 2002.

Anti-Defamation League president Abraham Foxman says that's good news, but adds: "When it comes to Jews, old stereotypes die hard." Some of the questions in the survey were designed to get at these stereotypes: "Are Jews too powerful or influential?"; "Are they engaged in shady practices?"; and "Do they stick with their own kind?"

Mr. Foxman says that for the most part, anti-Semitism is a latent attitude, not acted upon, except in the extreme. "You have your (Nazi hate group) 'Skin Heads', you have your Ku Klux Klan, you have your kid-violence which expresses itself in anger and frustration," he says. "These are public manifestations of attitudes."

Those public manifestations are on the rise. While the survey shows that anti-Semitic attitudes in America are somewhat less common than they were 3 years ago, a separate ADL audit released at the same time as the survey reveals a 17% increase in anti-Semitic acts in the U.S. -- the highest increase in 9 years. Among the acts included in the audit: physical and verbal violence; vandalism of synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish institutions; and harassment in schools.