March 20, 2023
A new American Jewish Committee (AJC) study of Latino Millennial and Gen Z leaders in the United States reveals a troubling disconnect between this growing segment of the American population and the Jewish community.
Despite the growing number of antisemitic incidents over the past several years, 52% of Latinos, ages 18-40, say they perceive that Jews, in comparison to other minority groups, are facing the least amount of discrimination. 34% said the Jewish community is experiencing significant levels of discrimination, and 54% disagreed.
Moreover, 42% of young Latinos say the Jewish community is well-positioned to fend for itself, while 39% say Jews need the support and collaboration of the Hispanic community.
“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,” said Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (AJC BILLA). “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.”
Discussion of the study will be the focus of the National Conversation of the State of Latino-Jewish Relations that AJC BILLA will convene with leaders of both communities on April 27 in Washington, D.C.
Through BILLA, founded in 2005, AJC, the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, has prioritized building alliances between U.S. Latinos and Jews based on shared agendas. National highlights include the establishment of the AJC-inspired Latino Jewish Congressional Caucus in 2011, the Latino Jewish Leadership Council in 2017, and a myriad of advocacy initiatives throughout the country. Focusing on Latino Millennial and Gen Z leaders in recent years, AJC partnered with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and signed an MOU with the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute last month to bring collaboration to new levels.
Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the U.S. The Hispanic population has grown 23% since 2010, totaling more than 62.1 million people in 2020. 85% of the AJC study participants were born in the U.S.
AJC’s Belfer Institute, in partnership with AJC’s Alexander Young Leadership Department , commissioned the study of Latino Millennial and GenZ leaders in the U.S. to gauge their views of discrimination and antisemitism in America as well as perceptions of U.S. Jewry and the State of Israel. The study, comprised of 125 in-depth phone interviews with emerging Latino political, business, media, and academic leaders in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York was conducted in July and August 2022 by a bipartisan team of researchers at Bendixen and Amandi International, together with GrassrootsLab.
In general, 52% of young Latinos say they have a positive association with Jews, 15% say they have a negative association, and 32% are neutral. 47% believe there is a natural connection between Jews and Hispanics, while 33% say there is no connection, with 20% choosing to not answer.
Discrimination in America
Young Latinos, however, do not view American Jews as facing levels of discrimination similar to what they and other minorities endure. 50% of Latinos consider Jews more like Whites than other minorities, while only 40% said Jews are like other minorities.
34% of Latino Millennial and GenZ leaders think Jews are facing significant levels of discrimination in the U.S. and 54% do not. Further, 37% say discrimination targeting American Jews has improved, compared to 14% who say discrimination against American Jews is worse than ever, and 35% who say it is unchanged.
While 87% of the young Latinos say racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination is a significant problem in the U.S., and 75% reported that they have experienced discrimination or know of someone who has, only 6% cited Jews as the most affected group and 54% said Jews are the least impacted.
63% say the Hispanic community faces a more difficult situation in their city than the Jewish community. 19% said the Jewish community has more difficulty, and 13% said both.
Asked to compare levels of discrimination experienced by various population groups in the U.S., the young Latinos said that Jews face the least discrimination. 62% said African Americans are currently experiencing the “most serious/most urgent” level of discrimination, 12% said Hispanics, 8% said Muslims, 7% chose Asian Americans, and only 6% said Jews.
On the contrary, 54% said Jews face the “least serious/least urgent” level of discrimination, while 16% said Asian Americans, 10% said Hispanics, 8% said Muslims, and 6% said African Americans.
When participants in the AJC study were asked what they would call discrimination against Jews, 74% chose the term “antisemitism” and 13% provided a description of different expressions of hatred towards Jews that showed awareness and understanding of discrimination against Jews without using the “antisemitism” word.
None of the 125 respondents offered a direct reference to current discriminatory activity against Jewish people in the U.S. Only 18% said they have seen more incidents of discrimination in their communities in the last five years, while 43% reported they saw less, and 23% saw no change.
On the positive, 66% of those interviewed said that, as a young emerging leader, discrimination against Jews in the U.S. is an issue they “personally have a responsibility to engage on and speak out against.” 17% said it should be left to others, and another 17% declined to answer.
Attitudes Towards Judaism and Israel
Asked what their first thought about Jews is, 68% said they think first about Jews in the U.S., and 15% think first about Jews in Israel.
76% of young Latino adults are familiar, and 20% are not, with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. 41% personally sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel, 24% sympathize more with Israel, and 19% sympathize with both.
While young Latinos were not asked about the Holocaust, many raised the topic in conversations, revealing they see it as a historical event that has no bearing on their own lives. They do not see a connection between the persecution of Jews and their own experiences with discrimination, or that bigotry and violence targeting one minority can adversely affect others as well.