Alarming percentage of American Jews targeted by antisemitism in past year – survey

According to the American Jewish Committee poll 90% of the Jews polled say antisemitism is a problem in the country.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An American Jewish Committee (AJC) poll published Monday reveals that 24% of American Jews have been victims of antisemitism in the last 12 months, with 39% hiding that they are Jews or restricting their activity as a result.

AJC CEO David Harris was alarmed over the high numbers.

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

In the past 12 months, over a fifth (22%) have avoided displaying items that would mark them as Jewish, 17% have avoided certain places or events, and a quarter have avoided posting content online because they were concerned about antisemitism.

Of those attacked in person, 17% reported being verbally assailed and three percent suffered a physical assault. Of those attacked online (12%), the vast majority has been on Facebook (55%) and Twitter (35%). The sites do not really know the extent of the problem, however, since only 42% said they reported the antisemitic remark or post. The companies’ reactions left a lot to be desired, as they responded by removing the negative content in only 36% of the cases.

On the political end, a slight majority (53%) approved of how President Joe Biden himself is responding to the phenomenon and 28% disapproving, with the numbers basically flipping for Congress, as half disapproved and 28% approved. On the party level, many more disapproved of the way the Republicans are responding (65%) than the Democrats (40%).

This could be linked to the fact that a vast majority (91%) feels that the extreme political right poses a threat to Jews, with 45% deeming it a “very serious” one. Meanwhile, although 71% said the extreme political left was a threat, only 19% deemed it “very serious.” A separate question was asked regarding Islam, and fully 86% agreed that it was an antisemitic threat.

A whopping 90% feel it’s a problem in the country, with 82% saying it’s gotten worse over the last five years and 31% feeling less secure than they did a year ago. Although still a majority, the non-Jews polled were far less likely to think it a problem, with only 60% agreeing with that statement and 44% thinking that antisemitism has increased in the last half decade.

The two groups were much closer on whether antisemitism is taken more or less seriously than other forms of hate and bigotry. Almost identical numbers said it’s considered the same as other forms or that it’s taken more seriously, with a greater spread (46% of Jews and 38% of U.S. adults) saying it is taken less seriously.

The poll is the largest one the AJC has ever done, with independent research firm SSRS interviewing 1,433 Jews over age 18 and 1,214 non-Jews in September. The margin of error was +/-3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.