‘Where Is the Outrage?’ One in Four U.S. Jews Targeted by Antisemitism Over Past Year, Survey Finds

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Neo-Nazis saluting and shouting "Sieg Heil" during a rally in Trenton, New Jersey, earlier this year.
Neo-Nazis saluting and shouting "Sieg Heil" during a rally in Trenton, New Jersey, earlier this year. Credit: Mel Evans / AP

WASHINGTON – Nearly one in every four U.S. Jews has been targeted by antisemitism in the past year, and almost half have resultantly altered their behavior, new polling has found.

The American Jewish Committee, one of the oldest and most significant Jewish establishment organizations in America, described its 2021 “State of Antisemitism in America” report as “the largest and most comprehensive surveys of their kind ever conducted.”

“This critical report confirms that American Jews are deeply concerned about antisemitism in America and many are limiting their behavior as a result,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “That one in four American Jews has been the target of antisemitism over the past year alone, and that four out of 10 have taken steps to conceal their Jewishness or curtail their activities as a result, should alarm all Americans.”

The report highlights the discrepancies between the Jewish and non-Jewish populations regarding their respective concerns about antisemitism’s prevalence, with 90 percent of Jews describing antisemitism as a problem, compared to 60 percent of the general population.

Furthermore, 82 percent of American Jews believe antisemitism has increased over the past five years, compared to 44 percent of the U.S. general public sharing that view.

AJC, which has been among the most vocal organizations critical of lawmakers who have voiced unprecedented criticisms of Israel, reports that “more than 80 percent of both Jews and the U.S. general public consider anti-Zionism – as represented by the statement ‘Israel has no right to exist’ – antisemitic,” and that 82 percent of Jews and 63 percent of the U.S. general public describe the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as “either antisemitic as a whole or has antisemitic supporters.” Fewer than 15 percent claimed that BDS is not antisemitic.

The survey found that 71 percent of Jewish respondents identified the extreme political left as an antisemitic threat, compared to 91 percent identifying the extreme political right.

“Now is the time for American society to stand up and say ‘Enough is enough.’ American Jews see antisemitism on the far right and the far left, among extremists acting in the name of Islam, and elsewhere throughout America,” Harris said. “It is 2021, and a disturbing number of Jews in America are afraid of identifying openly as Jewish for fear of attack. 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?”

The survey also covered the presence of antisemitism on college campuses. Fifty percent of American Jews believe antisemitism on college campuses has increased over the past five years, echoing another study released by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International reporting that 32 percent of Jewish students experienced antisemitism directed at them, and 79 percent of those students reported that it happened to them more than once during the last academic year.

Concerning the role of U.S. officials in responding to antisemitism, 53 percent of Jews surveyed approve of U.S. President Joe Biden’s response and 45 percent approve of the Democratic Party’s response. This compared to 28 percent approving of Congress’ response and 20 percent approving the Republican Party’s response. Additionally, 66 percent of U.S. Jews said law enforcement is effective in responding to the needs of the Jewish community – a drop from 81 percent in 2019.

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