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March 20, 2023 4:25 pm

‘Behavior of Colonizers’: Many Latino Millennials and Gen-Zers Don’t Believe Antisemitism Is a Problem: Survey


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

People hold Israeli flags during a demonstration as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist coalition government presses on with its contentious judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 11, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias

Over half of Millennial and Gen-Z Latinos believe that Jews face the least discrimination of all minority groups in the US, according to a survey results released by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Monday.

AJC interviewed one-hundred-and-twenty-five young Latinos, ranging from ages 18-40 and representing five cities, for the survey. Only 34 percent agreed that Jews experience “significant levels of discrimination” while 54 percent disagreed. 42 percent of the cohort also said the Jewish community can “fend for itself.” Thirty-nine percent said Jews need the support of the Latino community.

“We found that most Latinos believe that Jews are more like Whites than other minorities,” the report said. “Half of respondents made that claim, while only 40 percent responded that Jews were more like other minorities.”

The findings suggest that Latinos believe discrimination is an activity that targets perceived racial identity rather than ethnic and religious identity, the report continued, explaining that Latinos do demonstrate “some affinity” for the Jewish people because of their history of persecution.

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“Our findings suggest that while there is a heightened awareness and sensitivity to discrimination in America, these views are more often associated with racial cues, rather than ethnic or religious ones,” it continued. “From impacting their ability to get ahead in the country to shaping their daily life experiences to dealing with discrimination, skin color is seen by Latinos as an important factor affecting their lives and life chances.”

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Millennial and Gen-Z Latinos lean pro-Palestinian, with many surveyed describing Israel as the aggressor and intransigent party preventing peace. One respondent said, “The Jews are forcefully working against a resolution.” Another said, “I think that Israel has right to their land and also to defend it from terrorism. But at the same time I don’t like the behavior of colonizers.” Overall, the survey showed Palestinians sympathizers outnumbering Israeli sympathizers by a 2-1 margin.

AJC’s data is consistent with a recent Gallup poll which found that younger Americans’ opinions about Israel are polarized, with 42 percent of millennials sympathizing more with Palestinians and 40 percent sympathizing more with Israelis. The trend is driving down numbers measuring support for Israel in the Democratic Party, whose adults members now favor Palestinians by a 49 to 38 margin.

AJC concluded that widespread knowledge of the Holocaust “is no longer as impactful as it once was” and that the “story of Jewish oppression and persecution is facing a branding problem in the Latino community.” It recommended communicating about the reality of religious persecution, raising awareness of antisemitism in the US, fostering among Latinos a sense that discrimination against one minority threatens all, and developing a media strategy that portrays Israel as an ally of persecuted minorities.

“Amidst rising levels of antisemitism, including violent attacks on Jews across the United States, the misperceptions among younger Latino adults of the threats American Jews are facing are disconcerting,” Dina Siegel,  director of AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, said on Monday. “The Latino and Jewish communities must bridge these gaps, especially when both minorities are targets of hate. We need to stand together as one against bigotry and violence in America.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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