According to a new survey, American Jews are far more likely to see antisemitism as a problem in the United States than non-Jews and are nearly twice as likely to see antisemitism increasing over the past five years.
The American Jewish Committee’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in American report is based on polling of both Jews and non-Jews — a representative sample of 1,433 and 1,214 people, respectively. Both groups were asked about their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism over the past 12 months, including during the conflict between Israel and Hamas from earlier this year.
The study found that nearly a quarter of American Jews has been the target of antisemitism over the past 12 months; 17% said they had been the targets of antisemitic remarks in person, 12% said they had been the targets of antisemitism online or on social media, and 3% said they had been the victims of physical attacks.
As a result, nearly 40 percent of American Jews have changed their behavior out of fear of antisemitism; a quarter has avoided posting content online that would enable others to identify them as Jewish; 22% have avoided wearing or displaying things that might enable others to identify them as Jewish; and 17% have avoided certain places, events, or situations due to concerns about their safety or comfort as Jews.
“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 ten have taken steps to conceal their Jewishness or curtail their activities as a result, should alarm all Americans. Now is the time for American society to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’”
Some of the other key findings include:
- 90% of American Jews think antisemitism is a problem in the United States today, with 41% saying it is a very serious problem, while 60% of the general public believes it’s a problem, with 25% saying it’s not much of a problem or not a problem at all.
- 80% of both Jews and the U.S. general public consider anti-Zionism—as represented by the statement “Israel has no right to exist” — antisemitic. This includes 92% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats. Similarly, large majorities of both Jews and non-Jews view the statement “American Jews are loyal to Israel and disloyal to America” as antisemitic, with 85% of Jews and 73% of the general public saying so.
- 50% of American Jews believe antisemitism on college campuses has increased over the past five years.
- 91% of the Jewish respondents said the extreme political right poses a threat to American Jews, with 45% saying it’s a very serious threat; 86% identified extremism in the name of Islam as posing an antisemitic threat, with 24% saying poses a very serious threat; and 71% said the extreme political left poses an antisemitic threat, with 19% saying it is a very serious threat.
- About one-third of Americans over the age of 18 still are not familiar with the term “antisemitism.” 65% have heard of it and know what it means, representing an increase compared to last year, when only 53% of respondents said so.