By the way, these findings were consistent even among those considered well- educated.
Conspiracy Thinking and Anti-Semitic Stereotypes Feed Anti-Americanism
Unfamiliarity with American politics, combined with hostility to U.S. policy as they saw it, left many focus group participants open to conspiratorial images of U.S. policymaking toward Israel and the Muslim world. The most prominent of these flowed from stereotypes about Jewish influence in America, which were pervasive among the focus group participants in all three countries despite their high levels of education. Many saw the United States and Israel as synonymous. When they gave their associations with the United States, “Zionism” was often near the top of the list. When they were asked what proportion of Americans are Jewish, wildly inaccurate estimates were common, anywhere from 10 percent up to 85 percent. (The real number is 2 percent.)
Americans are mostly Jews. (older Indonesian man)
The real Americans are the Indians, but those who immigrated to the U.S. are Jewish. (older Moroccan woman)
Even those with more realistic ideas of Jews’ numbers vastly exaggerated their influence:
About 10 percent [of Americans] are [Jews] but in the parliament 80 percent of them are Jews. (young Indonesian man)
Jews control 90 percent of the American media. (older Egyptian man)
(In fact, only 6 percent of members of the House of Representatives and only 10 percent of senators are Jewish. Just one of America’s five leading newspapers is controlled by a Jewish family.)
These anti-Semitic myths promote conspiracy theories involving America and suspicion of U.S. activities in the Muslim world. Several participants mentioned “theories” that the September 11 attacks were masterminded not by al-Qaeda, but by Jews:
They said that bin Laden hit the twin towers, why him? Maybe the Jews did it. (young Egyptian man)
Bin Laden is an Arabic name invented by the U.S. and Jews and used in connection with the killings and terrorist acts in order to worsen the image of Arabs and of Islam. (older Moroccan woman)23
23 These canards flow from a broadcast on al-Manar, the Hezbollah television station in Lebanon, on September 17, 2001, which falsely stated that four thousand Jews did not show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Since some participants believe Jews run America and hate Muslims, they think this explains why U.S. policy is hostile to Islam and supportive of Israel.
The government [in the United States is] Jewish. All Jews hate Muslims [and] they want to destroy Islam. (young Egyptian woman)
The U.S. arms Israel, because the U.S. is mostly Jews. (older Indonesian man)
Others saw Jews behind American initiatives for democracy and reform in Muslim lands. A young Indonesian man said, “Sometimes behind democratization is Zionism.” Such myths pose obvious problems for efforts to explain U.S. policies in the Muslim world.