AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America Report 2022
For too many American Jews, being Jewish no longer feels as safe as it once did. And the younger those American Jews are, the more they experience that threat firsthand.
An American Jewish Committee (AJC) study released in February sheds light on that heartbreaking reality and more. How affected are American Jews by rising antisemitism?
Based on parallel surveys of American Jews and the U.S. general public on their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism in the U.S, AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America Report 2022 is the most comprehensive of its kind.
More Jews feel less secure in America.
Over four in ten (41%) of American Jews feel their status is less secure than it was a year ago. That’s up 10 percentage points from 31% who reported feeling less secure in 2021. That sense of security has eroded, they say, primarily due in large part to the rise in antisemitic attacks, crimes, and violence; and how acceptable antisemitism and racism have become.
To prevent antisemitism from becoming normalized, Americans must speak out against antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories, which affect all of us.
“One best practice in fighting antisemitism is when leaders of other communities do the speaking. People are more likely to listen to those they know, those they trust, and those who are like them,” said Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s U.S. Director of Combating Antisemitism. “This is why we need white evangelical leaders to disavow white supremacy and antisemitic conspiracy theories like QAnon. We need Black leaders to condemn Louis Farrakhan’s antisemitism. We need Muslim leaders to condemn antisemitism or antisemitic tropes when they appear in their own communities and Latino leaders to speak out against antisemitism in their communities.”
Nine in 10 American Jews (89%) think antisemitism is a problem in the U.S., and eight in 10 (82%) say it has increased in the past five years.
One in five American Jewish respondents (19%) said, because of antisemitism, they feel unsafe (somewhat or very) when attending synagogues, Jewish day schools, community centers, or any of the Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated. Meanwhile, confidence in law enforcement also seems to be on a downward trend. 63% of American Jewish respondents say law enforcement is effective in responding to the security needs of Jews. Among Orthodox Jews surveyed, 65% say law enforcement is effective in addressing their needs, a sharp decrease from 81% in 2021.
American Jews are proud but altering behavior out of fear.
The lingering presence of antisemitism has altered how some American Jews conduct their day-to-day lives and even whether they publicly identify as Jewish this past year. This includes the 23% of Jewish adults who said they have avoided publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jewish; and the 16% who said they have avoided certain places, events, or situations because they are Jewish, out of concerns for their safety or comfort.
Likewise, one in five American Jewish respondents (19%) said, because of antisemitism, they feel unsafe (somewhat or very) when attending synagogues, Jewish day schools, community centers, or any of the Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated.
One in four (26%) American Jews reported being personally targeted by antisemitism in 2022 – a number that hasn’t declined since the survey question was first asked in 2019. While the number has not climbed, the fact that the threat has not waned is still troubling.
Overall, four in ten (38%) American Jews reported changing their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism.
Meanwhile, half of American Jewish institutions have boosted security measures in the last two years. But it is equally important to note the majority of Jews have not changed their behavior and still publicly identify as Jewish.
Understanding the Origins of Antisemitism
Antisemitism online and on social media is a continuing threat. But young American Jews experience it differently.
While one in eight American Jews (13%) were personally targeted by an antisemitic remark or post online or through social media in the past 12 months, among young American Jews between the ages of 18 and 29, roughly one in five (19%) say they were. (Antisemitism “experienced online” includes Jewish adults who were personally targeted and/or those who had seen it.)
In addition, almost two-thirds of American Jews (67%) have seen antisemitism online or on social media in the past year.
And 84% of Jewish adults under age 30 say they have seen this hateful content in the past year. Taken together with those who were personally targeted, fully 85% of young American Jews – those ages 18 to 29 – were the target of antisemitism online or have seen it online at least once in the past 12 months (compared with 64% of Jews age 30 or older).
For one in four of these young American Jews (26%), the antisemitism experienced online made them feel physically threatened, compared to 14% of their older counterparts.
Almost 3 in 10 (27%) of all American Jewish respondents avoided posting content online that would identify you as a Jew or reveal your views on Jewish issues. This number jumps to 37% for young American Jews, ages 18-29, compared to 24% of U.S. adults 30 and older.
American Jews pursuing higher education are experiencing some lows.
As part of the report, AJC surveyed American Jews who now attend or recently attended college or had children attending college. Those questions revealed that roughly one in ten American Jews with recent or current college experience have felt or been excluded from a group or an event on campus because they are Jewish. Slightly more (14%) have felt or been excluded from a campus group or event because of their assumed or actual connection to Israel. Just over a quarter (26%) say they have had trouble taking time off from class or have been told they could not miss class for the Jewish holidays.
One in five American Jewish respondents (19%) feel unsafe attending Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated because of antisemitism. One in five (21%) say they have avoided wearing or carrying things that identify them as Jewish; and 18% say they have ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe at a campus event because they are Jewish.