New study shows 88% of American Jews believe anti-Semitism is a problem

The survey “is a clarion call for a stepped-up, multi-pronged response to rising anti-Semitism in the United States,” AJC CEO David Harris said.

By Joseph Wolkin

Nearly all American Jews are convinced that anti-Semitism is a problem within the United States, according to a new study released by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Monday.

The report, “The State of Anti-Semitism in America 2020,” details a rise in hate crimes against Jews in the United States via social media, phone calls and in-person incidents.

Overall, 89 percent of the study’s 1,334 participants believe the “extreme political right” is a threat to Jews in America. Furthermore, 69 percent of participants said the Republican Party holds anti-Semitic views.

The “extreme political left” is also an anti-Semitic threat, according to the AJC, with 61 percent of American Jews saying so, a 3 percent decline from 2019. For the Democratic Party, 37 percent of people surveyed feel it holds anti-Semitic views.

“What American Jews and the general public are saying in these surveys, for us, is a clarion call for a stepped-up, multi-pronged response to rising anti-Semitism in the United States,” AJC CEO David Harris said. “That nearly half of the American population does not even seem to know what anti-Semitism is can only increase American Jews’ concern about their own security and well-being.”

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The AJC also conducted a study of the general public, which found that 62 percent of its 1,010 participants believe anti-Semitism not a problem in America.

While only 43 percent of participants believe anti-Semitism in America has increased throughout the past five years, anti-Semitism has increased significantly, with 2020 serving as a 40-year high in terms of anti-Semitic crimes.

The general public study found that 52 percent of people believe the Republic Party holds anti-Semitic views, while 42 percent say likewise for the Democratic Party.

Another major concern for American Jews, the survey revealed, is Islamic extremism in the United States. Eighty-five percent of American Jews in the study find that “extremism in the name of Islam” is an anti-Semitic threat.

Over the past year, there was an 8 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents at Jewish institutions, the study found. Last year, 33 percent of American Jews said the institution they attend was either defaced, attacked or threatened. That number is up to 41 percent.

Twenty-four percent of Jews in America said they will not wear items, such as a Star of David necklace, in public. That number is actually down from 31 percent during last year’s AJC study.

Most Jewish Americans do believe law enforcement is effectively “responding to the security needs of Jews.”

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In the general public study, 90 percent of people said it is important for schools to teach about the Holocaust.

Sixty-one percent of participants were familiar with the BDS movement. Of that group, 80 percent believe it is mostly anti-Semitic or has some anti-Semitic supporters.

The AJC found 14 percent of participants believe that it is not anti-Semitic to say “Israel has no right to exist.” Meanwhile, only 14 percent of people surveyed deemed it not anti-Semitic to say “the U.S. government only supports Israel because of Jewish money.”

Seventy-five percent of people in the general public study were not familiar with the BDS movement. For the 25 percent who were aware of it, 68 percent said it is mostly anti-Semitic or has some anti-Semitic supporters.

In response to the question, “If a Jewish person or organization considered a statement or idea to be anti-Semitic, would that make you (more likely) to consider it anti-Semitic, (less likely), or would it make no difference to you?” 65 percent of participants said it would not make a difference.