ADL: Majority of American Jews feel less safe than a decade ago

Anti-Defamation League survey reveals nearly two-thirds of American Jews feel less safe and more than half have experienced an anti-Semitic incident firsthand.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Anti-Semitism is up and American Jews are not only feeling it, many of them are also experiencing it, the Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday.

A public opinion survey on Jewish encounters with anti-Semitism in the United States conducted by the ADL found that nearly two-thirds of American Jews (63 percent) believe that they are less safe today than they were a decade ago. More than half of the Jews in America (54 percent) have personally been involved in or seen an anti-Semitic incident.

“Our tracking has shown that lethal and nonlethal anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in recent years, and now we’ve also found that American Jews are deeply concerned for their personal safety and their families’ and communities’ security in a way that they haven’t been in more than a decade,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.

“It is a sad state of affairs that in the face of widespread anxiety about anti-Semitic attacks, some Jewish Americans are modifying their routines and avoiding public displays of Judaism to minimize the risk of being targeted,” he said.

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Conducted in January before the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the survey also found that one in every five people surveyed (21 percent) said they were the target of anti-Semitic remarks and that 22 percent were affiliated with a Jewish institution that has been vandalized, damaged or defaced because of anti-Semitism.

A worrying one in seven respondents (14 percent) said they knew of someone who was physically attacked because they are Jewish, and the same percentage of Jews experienced anti-Semitic harassment online.

The survey also showed that fear was carried with them daily as almost 50 percent felt worried that a person publicly displaying their Judaism by wearing a skullcap or other identifying article would be physically assaulted or verbally harassed in public.

More than a quarter of the Jews (27 percent) actively take measures to avoid being targeted by not overtly wearing anything identifiable, and on social media sites they avoid using a Jewish-sounding family name or wearing any identifying Jewish symbols in pictures.

In the past year several fatal anti-Semitic attacks left their mark, including the shootings at a California synagogue, a kosher supermarket in New Jersey and a Chanukah celebration in Monsey, New York.

The survey findings come as anti-Semitic incidents have increased dramatically in the past three years. ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents reported more than 1,800 events in 2018, the third-highest total in 40 years. This came on the heels of the 2017 Audit, which documented a 57 percent surge over the prior year, the highest on record.

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The findings were confirmed by a report published Monday by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center that showed an 18 percent rise in major violent incidents last year compared to 2018. The report cautioned that the actual figures might be higher due to under-reporting of anti-Semitic incidents in some countries.