What do anti-Jewish hate, anti-Muslim hate have in common?

Anti-Jewish hate is often connected to anti-Muslim hate, said political scientist Nazita Lajevardi, and she has the data to prove it.

“Our research … finds that there is a group of people who not only agree that Muslims contribute to all problems in American society, but who also agree that Jews contribute to all problems in American society,” she said.

Lajevardi laid out the evidence during the “Pernicious Prejudice: Scholarly Approaches to Antisemitism and Islamophobia” panel last week at Tsai Auditorium. Part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences initiative on civil discourse, the conversation featured four experts on these forms of animus. The event was hosted by Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government and director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, which co-sponsored the event.

Lajevardi, an associate professor at Michigan State University and author of “Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia” (2020), drew from her 2023 paper concerning the shifting patterns of hate speech and hate crimes following the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where antisemitic rhetoric was prominently featured.

She and her co-authors analyzed information on hate incidents reported by the FBI, Anti-Defamation League, and Council on American-Islamic Relations. They also drew data from the mainstream social media site Reddit as well as more fringe platforms 4Chan and Gab.

Slurs against Muslims and Arabs decreased both on- and offline starting about one month before the rally, Lajevardi said. “What becomes incredibly important to know is that slurs against Jews increased right after the Unite the Right rally. In fact, slurs against Jews increased to 225 percent of their prior levels on Gab.”

Perhaps most revelatory were the researchers’ one-by-one scrapes of user feeds on the same platform. “What we found here is that people stopped mentioning Muslims and replaced those slurs with mentions toward Jews,” Lajevardi said. “We found a target substitution effect at the individual level.”

Kassra A.R. Oskooii, an associate professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware, spoke to the particularities of Islamophobia.

“Our research … finds that attitudes toward Muslims are distinct insofar as they’re closely associated with tropes of terrorism, violence, and existential threat on the one hand — and perceived cultural incompatibility with the American way of life on the other,” he said.

As a result, social scientists have failed to predict political outcomes that curb civil liberties and religious freedoms specifically for Muslim Americans, Oskooii argued.

“We have looked into measures such as passing laws that restrict the number of mosques and Islamic centers, which gained a lot of traction after mobilization against the construction of Park51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan,” Oskooii said. Also cited were restrictions on immigration from Muslim-majority countries under former President Donald Trump and increased surveillance following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Speaking directly about antisemitism was Jeffrey Kopstein, a political science professor and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Irvine. After a long academic career spent studying past discrimination, he was surprised by the reaction to his move from the University of Toronto to UCI in the mid 2010s.

“People said, ‘You’re crazy. Why are you going? It’s an antisemitic campus,’” he recalled.

That inspired research into contemporary attitudes toward Jews at the school, with Kopstein measuring the prevalence of various antisemitic stereotypes. At the behest of the Anti-Defamation League, the investigation later expanded to include three more UC campuses, with Kopstein collecting data both before and after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

The results have yet to be published, but Kopstein previewed key findings. For example, before Oct. 7 about 25 percent of respondents agreed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the U.S. Thirty-five percent agreed after the attacks.

“The thing about these results is, they’re not out of line with the rest of society,” offered Kopstein, pointing to broader data from the ADL.

Also measured was whether seniors harbored stronger anti-Jewish sentiments than first-years, with Kopstein finding “no change” between the two groups, rebutting conservative claims that colleges and universities push radical ideas that result in discrimination.

“The U.S. doesn’t have a campus problem,” he concluded. “It has an antisemitism problem.”

Sabine von Mering, Brandeis University professor of German and of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, used her time to call for greater scrutiny of social media sites. Her 2022 book “Antisemitism on Social Media,” co-edited with the University of Haifa’s Monika Hübscher, is filled with case studies of antisemitic incidents on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, highlighting the role of algorithm-driven technology in propagating prejudice.

“One thing I always want to emphasize is that this is happening for profit. The platforms being used in all of these cases are profiting handsomely from the spread of hate,” said von Mering, who also directs Brandeis’ Center for German and European Studies.

A German translation of her book is currently being reworked to incorporate Hamas’ use of social media on Oct. 7, she shared. “These images and videos were seen by millions around the world in real time,” von Mering said. “And again, social media companies were profiting in real time as well as advertisements were being sold.”

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