November 2019 -- Cheshvan-Kislev 5780,  Volume 25, Issue 11

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How American Jews View  Antisemitism in America

Approximately nine out of every ten American Jews believe antisemitism is a problem in America. These deeply disturbing figures are just some of the findings from a landmark survey of American Jews on antisemitism in America, conducted by the American Jewish Committee {AJC}  and released on October 23, days before the first anniversary of the deadly attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

This unprecedented survey is the largest and most comprehensive examination ever of American Jews’ experiences and perception of antisemitism.

 

This survey makes clear that American Jews view antisemitism as a significant problem in America—and one that is getting worse, coming from the far right, the hard left, extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam, and movements that target the State of Israel.

 

AJC is the leading organization combating antisemitism around the world. The results of this survey will inform their advocacy and the national conversation around antisemitism for years to come. Working with policymakers, faith and ethnic leaders, and everyday Americans, AJC will continue educating on this charged subject and advocating for national solutions.

 

Antisemitism in America

 

• 88% of American Jews believe antisemitism is a problem in America today and 84% say it has increased over the past five years, including a plurality—43%—who say it has increased a lot.

 

• More than a third of all American Jews (35%) say they have personally been the targets of antisemitism over the past five years: nearly a quarter (23%) say they’ve been targeted by antisemitic remarks in person, by mail, or by phone; a fifth (20%) say they’ve been targeted by antisemitic remarks online, and 2% say they’ve been physically attacked for being Jewish.

 

• Nearly a third — 31% — of American Jews have avoided publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jewish, while 25% say they avoid certain places, events, or situations out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews at least some of the time.

 

• Young people between the ages of 18-29 are the most vulnerable, with nearly half (45%) saying they have been the victims of antisemitism over the past five years and four in ten (38%) saying they have concealed their Jewishness in public – more than any other age group.

 

Antisemitism and Israel

• American Jews overwhelmingly believe that anti-Zionism—that is, the belief that Israel should not exist—is a form of antisemitism: 84% of respondents said the statement “Israel has no right to exist” is antisemitic.

 

• 80% of respondents said the statement, “The U.S. government only supports Israel because of the Jewish money” is antisemitic and 73% said so about the statement “American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.”

 

• Only 14% of American Jews say the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel is not antisemitic: over a third (35%) characterized the movement as mostly antisemitic, while 47% said it is not mostly antisemitic but has antisemitic supporters. The more familiar American Jews are with the BDS Movement, the more likely they are to consider it to be antisemitic, with a majority of those who say they are “very familiar” with the movement characterizing it as mostly antisemitic.

 

Government Response

• 72% of American Jews disapprove of President Trump’s handling of the threat of antisemitism in America, compared to only 24% who approve. Respondents’ assessment of President Trump’s response to antisemitism varied vastly by their political affiliation, with 84% of Republicans expressing approval of the President’s response, compared to only 4% of Democrats.

 

• 81% of American Jews characterize U.S. law enforcement’s response to antisemitism as either very or somewhat effective, compared to only 15% who said the response is not too effective or not effective at all.

 

Responsibility for Antisemitism

• 89% of American Jews believe the extreme political right represents a threat to Jews in the United States, while 85% say the same of extremism in the name of Islam and nearly two thirds—64%—say so about the extreme political left.

 

• American Jews assign greater responsibility to the Republican Party for the current level of antisemitism in the United States than they do to the Democratic Party. When asked to assign responsibility on a scale of 1 (no responsibility) to 10 (total responsibility), respondents assigned the Republican Party an average score of 6.2, while the Democratic Party scored a 3.6.

 

• While those who identify as Republican or Democrat tend to assign greater responsibility to the opposite party, American Jews also view their own parties as having some responsibility for the current level of antisemitism in America, with each rating their own party with similar scores of 2.7.

 

For the full results  of the survey along with in-depth analysis, go to AJC.org/Antisemitism-Survey-2019.