- Fake news on social media is thought to be the main reason young people question the Holocaust
- Holocaust denial is much more common among young people, although seven per cent of Americans of all ages still believe it is a myth
- Meanwhile more Americans perceive anti-Semitism as a problem now than in 2019
One in five young Americans thinks the Holocaust is a myth while only half think it definitely happened, a new poll has revealed.
Conspiracy theories about the Holocaust abound on social media as fake news is suspected to be the main cause of Holocaust denial or uncertainty in young people.
Older people were much more likely to believe the Holocaust really happened, but across all ages, seven per cent of Americans still believed it is a myth.
The new data from the YouGov/the Economist poll is particularly pertinent given the rise in accusations of anti-Semitism on US university campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
TikTok has been forced to block users from searching for ‘Holocaust myth’ under its Community Guidelines saying: ‘This phrase may be associated with hateful behavior’.
The results of the new poll are particularly pertinent given the ongoing Israel-Hamas war
The poll comes as large scale pro-Palestine protests take place in major cities and on university campuses across the US
A recent study by Generation Lab, a data-intelligence company, found that young adults who used TikTok were more likely to hold anti-Semitic beliefs.
This week, congress launched an investigation into Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania following their presidents’ failure to condemn students calling for a Jewish genocide.
Since Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7, Harvard, MIT, and Penn’s campuses have been flooded with unregulated anti-Israel protests.
The presidents of the three universities were called before a congressional hearing where they refused to denounce calls for the genocide of Jews as ‘harassment’, and said such speech does not necessarily violate their codes of conduct.
But the issue is not limited to Ivy League campuses, as the poll found levels of believing the Holocaust is a myth are similar across all levels of education.
About 20 per cent of all people aged 18 to 29 believe the murder of six million Jews is made up, while an additional 30 per cent said they did not know whether the Holocaust was a myth or not.
Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Pamela Nadell, Professor of History and Jewish Studies at American University, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Senator Jacky Rosen D-NV has called for more funding to educate students about the Holocaust.
She said this week: ‘Failing to educate students about the gravity and scope of the Holocaust is a disservice to the memory of its victims and to our duty to prevent such atrocities in the future’.
YouGov stressed that Holocaust denial is still ‘rare’ but found that larger shares of adults ‘tend to agree with certain negative statements about Israel’.
Even if Americans believe the Holocaust happened, one in five still believe ‘Israel exploits Holocaust victimhood for its own purposes’.
These views impact their views on Israeli national and foreign policy, with nearly a fifth of all adults believing that the ‘interests of Israelis are at odds with the interests of the rest of the world’.
A further fifth believe that ‘Israel has too much control over global affairs’ while nearly a third believe that ‘Israel is deliberately trying to wipe out the Palestinian population.’
These negative views are more often held by young people and Democrat voters than Republicans.
A pro-Palestine march in New York on December 9
Americans under 30 are especially likely to agree with the statement that ‘Jews have too much power in America,’ with 28 per cent saying they strongly or tend to agree with it.
YouGov does say that the levels of agreement with the anti-Israel or anti-Semitic statements hasn’t changed much since 2019, suggesting the war has not had a big impact on public sentiments.
And they add more Americans perceive anti-Semitism as a problem now than in 2019 – up to 63 per cent from 54 per cent in 2019.
They add that most Americans – 67 per cent – agree that Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic.