One in five young Americans believes the Holocaust is a myth, poll finds

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march in Times Square, New York, last month amid allegations of rising anti-Semitism
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march in Times Square, New York, last month amid allegations of rising anti-Semitism - EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AP

One in five young Americans thinks that the Holocaust is a myth and only half are convinced that it definitely happened, according to a new poll.

Older Americans were far more likely to believe the historical fact of the Holocaust, the attempt by Hitler’s Germany to exterminate Jewish people.

The findings are particularly sensitive amid growing accusations of anti-Semitism on US university campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Fake news on social media has been suggested as an explanation for the findings in the YouGov/The Economist poll, which found the proportion of Americans who believe the Holocaust is a myth was similar across all levels of education.

About 20 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 believe the murder of six million Jews is made up, the survey found. An additional 30 per cent said they did not know whether the Holocaust was a myth or not.

Death camps in Europe

That suggests only half of Americans aged 18 to 29 are convinced the Holocaust happened. In contrast, only 8per cent of those aged between 30 and 44 don’t believe in the Nazi genocide, which was ruthlessly pursued in death camps across Europe.

Young people were also nearly five times more likely to think that Jews have too much power in the USA than those aged 65 or over. Some 28 per cent of young respondents agreed with the well-worn anti-Semitic trope, compared to just 6 per cent of older Americans.

The disturbing findings have emerged as concerned parents are overhauling their children’s applications to Ivy League universities in response to some university leaders refusing to condemn calling for the genocide of Jews as hate speech.

Christopher Rim, an admissions consultant, works with the children of New York multi-millionaires, charging fees of $100,000 a year to help them get into their desired universities.

But he says “dozens” of his clients have scrapped their childrens’ university choices in response to how the institutions have dealt with rising anti-Semitism on campus.

Many families have foregone early admission, which gives applicants a chance to apply to certain universities in advance, because they wanted to “see how things played out”, he said.

‘Too little, too late’

But since Tuesday’s congressional hearing, at which the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said context was required to assess whether calling for a genocide against Jews constituted “harassment”, some have now u-turned completely on their university selections.

While Liz Magill, the president of UPenn has released a video of apology, and Claudine Gay, of Harvard, said anyone who threatens Jewish “students will be held to account”, Mr Rim said it was “too little too late”.

Mr Rim, the chief executive of Command Education, said he has been fielding calls from outraged parents who have said they “don’t want to give a single dollar to these universities”.

He added he expects to see an “insane amount of demand” in some universities in the south such as Emory or the University of Miami.

However, Brian Taylor, the managing partner at admissions consultancy firm Ivy Coach, said while some outraged parents have considered withholding their donations to universities such as Harvard and UPenn, he hasn’t had any change of course.

“Jews are never going to stop seeking the very best education”, he said.

Mr Taylor said he is encouraging his Jewish clients to “lean into their faith” in their admissions essays and “dare” universities like Harvard and UPenn to discriminate against them.

He said: “Even if they have a pro-Hamas admissions officer, my bet is that pro-Hamas admissions officer is going to be checked.”

Harvard and UPenn are among the schools being investigated by the US Department of Education over complaints of anit-Semitic and Islamophobic discrimination.

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