ADL Publishes New Guide to Antisemitic Tropes

  • March 23, 2020

Organization calls on public leaders to avoid antisemitic rhetoric during 2020 election, shares resource with candidates

New York, NY, March 12, 2020 … Beginning this week, ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) will share a new comprehensive guide to contemporary antisemitism with candidates running for national office in 2020, as well as every member of Congress. Antisemitism Uncovered: A Guide to Old Myths in a New Era identifies some of the most stubborn tropes about Jews, explains why they are dangerous, provides the backstory behind the myths and shows how they have evolved into the present day.

“As violence against Jews is already at historic levels, we call on all public leaders, particularly during this heated political season, to avoid invoking antisemitic tropes,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The tropes this guide explains are the roots of antisemitism, and have led to violence against Jewish communities around the world over centuries. Today, they are still modern drivers of antisemitic violence, finding voice in the tweets and public statements of elected officials, or resonating with the extremists who carried out violent attacks against Jews in Pittsburgh, Poway and Jersey City.”

Antisemitism Uncovered is a carefully researched, authoritative, peer-reviewed resource that provides a concise history of antisemitism through the ages and definitions of seven of the most common antisemitic tropes that have had remarkable staying power through the centuries: myths about power, loyalty, greed, deicide, the blood libel, Holocaust denialism and the newest form of antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel.

The guide explains the history of antisemitism and the myths that have helped it to endure for centuries. The first chapter provides a brief summary of antisemitism on a global level. The next chapter details antisemitism in America. Each of the following seven chapters tackles one of the tropes:

  • Jews have too much power.
  • Jews are disloyal
  • Jews are greedy
  • Jews killed Jesus
  • Jews use Christian blood for religious rituals
  • The Holocaust didn’t happen
  • Anti-Zionism or delegitmization of Israel

Each trope is explained using a modular format with a discussion of each myth using descriptions of its historic origin followed by contemporary examples and closing with an explanation of the faulty logic behind the antisemitic myths.

“By debunking myths and offering context for the most stubborn antisemitic tropes, we hope this guide will educate people, particularly those who influence the public debate, about what is, and what is not, antisemitism and why,” Greenblatt said. “This will help prevent the greater normalization of antisemitism and prevent extremists from seeing a green light to act on such hatred.”

“Disturbingly enough, in just past the few weeks, our team at the Center on Extremism has documented an increase in chatter among some extremists on the far-fringes of the internet that Jews somehow are responsible for creating and spreading the novel coronavirus,” said Greenblatt. “It is a baseless accusation but one with historical resonance: it echoes the medieval trope that Jews were responsible for spreading the Bubonic Plague in Europe.”

Among those experts contributing editorial content or guidance in the development of Antisemitism Uncovered are Andrew Mark Bennett, doctoral candidate in law, Freie Universität Berlin; Golan Moskowitz, Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellow at the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto; Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Indiana University; Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and  Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University; Magda Teter, Professor of History and the Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies at Fordham University; and the team at Be’chol Lashon /

ADL gratefully acknowledges the ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Antisemitism for its sustained support of this project and commitment to fighting antisemitism. The full guide is available online at and also will be available in hardcover format.