1 in 4 Jews in US Has been Anti-Semitism Victims in Past Year, Survey Shows

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Jerusalem, 26 October, 2021 (TPS) — One in four Jews in the US has been a victim of anti-Semitism in the past year, with about 17% of them experiencing face-to-face anti-Semitism, and 3% were physically assaulted, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) State of Anti-Semitism in America Report shows.

The AJC 2021 State of Anti-Semitism in America report, released on Monday, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever conducted, confirm that “hatred of Jews remains a severe problem in the United States, requiring urgent attention—and that American Jews and the US general public view the problem very differently.”

The survey’s findings show that 24% of American Jews has been the target of anti-Semitism over the past 12 months: 17% said they had been the targets of anti-Semitic remarks in person, 12% said they had been the targets of anti-Semitism online or on social media, and 3% said they had been the victims of physical attacks.

Consequently, approximately four out of every 10 American Jews, 39%, have changed their behavior out of fear of anti-Semitism: 25% have avoided posting content online that would enable others to identify them as Jewish or reveal their views on Jewish issues; 22% have avoided wearing or displaying things that might enable others to identify them as Jewish; and 17% have avoided certain places, events, or situations due to concerns about their safety or comfort as Jews.

Four in 10 Americans of all backgrounds, 41%, have personally witnessed an anti-Semitic incident in the last 12 months, with 31% having witnessed more than one.

However, there is some discrepancy between the Jewish and general populations regarding the severity of anti-Semitism in the US.

90% of American Jews think anti-Semitism is a problem in the US today, with 41% saying it is a very serious problem and only 10% saying it is not a problem.

At the same time, a far smaller majority, 60%, of the general public says anti-Semitism is a problem, with 25% saying it is not much of a problem or not a problem at all.

While 82% of American Jews believe anti-Semitism has increased over the past five years, only 44% of the US general public shares that view, with 15% of Americans saying anti-Semitism has actually gone down, compared to only 3% of American Jews who say the same.

Both groups were asked if anti-Semitism is taken more or less seriously than other forms of hate and bigotry. 46% of Jews and 38% of US adults said it is taken less seriously, 37% of Jews and 47% of US adults said it is considered to be the same as other forms of hate and bigotry, and 16% of Jewish respondents and 15% of the general population said anti-Semitism is taken more seriously.

Interestingly, more than 80% of both Jews and the US general public consider anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic. This includes 92% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats. Similarly, large majorities of both Jews and non-Jews view the statement “American Jews are loyal to Israel and disloyal to America” as anti-Semitic, with 85% of Jews and 73% of the general public saying so.

While most Americans have not heard much or anything at all about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, those who have believe it has anti-Semitic elements: of those who expressed some familiarity with the movement, 82% of Jews and 63% the US general public said the movement is either anti-Semitic as a whole or has anti-Semitic supporters, with under 15% saying the movement is not anti-Semitic.

Asked about the threat posed by the three primary sources of anti-Semitism, 91% of the Jewish respondents said the extreme political right poses a threat to American Jews, with 45% saying it’s a very serious threat; 86% identified extremism in the name of Islam as posing an anti-Semitic threat, with 24% saying poses a very serious threat; and 71% said the extreme political left poses an anti-Semitic threat, with 19% saying it is a very serious threat.

“This critical report confirms that American Jews are deeply concerned about anti-Semitism in America—and many are limiting their behavior as a result,” said AJC CEO David Harris.

“That one in four American Jews has been the target of anti-Semitism over the past year alone, and that four out of 10 have taken steps to conceal their Jewishness or curtail their activities as a result, should alarm all Americans,” he said.

“Now is the time for American society to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’ American Jews see anti-Semitism on the far right and the far left, among extremists acting in the name of Islam, and elsewhere throughout America,” he declared.

“It is 2021, and a disturbing number of Jews in America are afraid of identifying openly as Jewish for fear of attack. Where is the outrage? Where is the recognition that anti-Semitism may begin with Jews but, ultimately, targets the fabric and fiber of any democratic society?” he demanded.

The survey was conducted by the independent research firm SSRS. National representative samples of 1,433 Jews, ages 18 or older, were interviewed by telephone and online from September 1 – October 3, 2021, and 1,214 general population adults, 18 or older, via the SSRS Opinion Panel, from September 9 – September 22, 2021. The margin of error for both surveys is +/-3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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