Eitan Hersh Wins Ilia Salita Excellence in Research Award for Antisemitism Research

Jewish Funders Network (JFN) and Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) today awarded the first-ever Ilia Salita Excellence in Research Award (ERA) to Eitan Hersh at its international conference in Palm Beach, Fla.

The Ilia Salita ERA celebrates the life and legacy of Ilia Salita z”l, GPG’s former president and CEO, who was a deeply respected and beloved figure in the Jewish philanthropic world. The award aims to help the Jewish community make decisions armed with more information and reward, as well as incentivize, the work of researchers in this space. The $15,000 award, funded by Genesis Philanthropy Group and facilitated by Jewish Funders Network, recognizes and highlights research projects that can impact Jewish life in a direct and positive way.

Eitan Hersh is being honored for his research, together with Harvard University doctoral candidate Laura Royden, on antisemitic attitudes across the ideological spectrum in the United States. The research tests the “horseshoe theory,” a commonly espoused idea that the far left and the far right hold a common set of anti-Jewish prejudicial attitudes that distinguish them from the ideological center. Hersh and Royden conducted several innovative experiments on an original survey of 3,500 U.S. adults, including an oversample of young adults, oversampled because antisemitism is theorized to be more common among younger people.

Hersh and Royden are writing at least three research papers with this data. The first focused on the findings that the "ground zero" for antisemitic views is young adults on the far right. The young far right is distinctive in their negative views both from the older right and from the left. A second paper focuses on racial groups and the finding that young Black and Latino identifiers exhibit high rates of antisemitic views (similar levels to the young far right). A third paper focuses on the young left and their negative attitudes toward Israel.

Watch a webinar in which Eitan Hersh discusses his research and its implications for funders.

Two of the three papers coming out of this project are under review in scholarly journals. The research has also garnered extensive media coverage.

“Eitan’s groundbreaking research sought for the first time to use the best techniques of political science to understand how and where antisemitic attitudes lie among the full diversity of Americans,” wrote Jonathan Horowitz, Director of National and Democracy Initiatives at The Klarman Family Foundation, in a reference letter submitted as part of Hersh’s Ilia Salita ERA nomination. “No more finger pointing at progressive college students or Evangelical activists based on anecdotes. Rather, this research enables us to use data to understand the problems of antisemitism- who holds what views- and then design our interventions based on what the research tells us.”

Hersh is an associate professor of political science at Tufts University. His research focuses on U.S. elections, voting rights, and civic participation. Hersh is the author of “Politics is for Power” (Scribner, 2020) and “Hacking the Electorate” (Cambridge UP 2015), as well as many scholarly articles. Hersh earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 2011 and served as assistant professor of political science at Yale University from 2011-2017. His public writings have appeared in venues such as the New York Times, USA Today, The Atlantic, POLITICO, and the Boston Globe. Hersh regularly testifies in voting rights court cases and has testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the role of data analytics in political campaigns.

In addition to work on elections and civic engagement, Hersh has written on topics ranging from antisemitism and the political consequences of terrorist attacks to politicization in health care delivery and the opioid crisis. His next book is about the civic role of business leaders.