A new report from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is warning that 41 percent of American Jews feel “less secure” than they did a year ago – and the younger the Jews are, the more they experience that threat first hand.
‘The State of Antisemitism in America 2022’ assesses and compares Jewish and general population perceptions of, and experiences with, antisemitism in the United States.
The report is based on one of the largest-ever combined national surveys of American Jews and the US general public, conducted in the fall of last year.
It comes just two months after the White House announced the creation of a new federal interagency group to develop a national strategy to combat antisemitism.
More than four in ten American Jews feel their status is less secure than it was a year ago, a finding that is 10 percentage points higher than the 31 percent who reported feeling less secure in 2021.
The finding was attributed to the rise in antisemitic attacks, crimes, and violence – and how acceptable antisemitism and racism have become.
Nine out of ten American Jews (89 percent) said they think antisemitism is a problem in the US. Eight out of ten (82 percent) said antisemitism has increased in the past five years.
The lingering presence of antisemitism has also altered how some American Jews conduct their daily lives, including whether they publicly identify as Jewish.
Of the Jewish adults who were surveyed, 23 percent said they have avoided publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jewish; 16 percent said they have avoided certain places, events, or situations because they are Jewish and out of concern for their safety or comfort.
One in five American Jewish respondents (19 percent) said, because of antisemitism, they feel unsafe (somewhat or very) when attending synagogues, Jewish day schools, community centers, or any of the Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated.
One in four (26 percent) American Jews reported being personally targeted by antisemitism in 2022 – a number that hasn’t declined since the survey question was first asked in 2019. While the number has not climbed, the fact that the threat has not waned is still troubling.
Overall, four in ten (38 percent) American Jews reported changing their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism, and half of American Jewish institutions boosted security measures in the last two years.
While one in eight American Jews (13 percent) were personally targeted by an antisemitic remark or post online or through social media in the past 12 months, among young American Jews between the ages of 18 and 29, roughly one in five (19 percent) say they were.
(Antisemitism “experienced online” includes Jewish adults who were personally targeted and/or those who had seen it.)
In addition, almost two-thirds of American Jews (67 percent) have seen antisemitism online or on social media in the past year. A disturbing 84 percent of Jewish adults under age 30 say they have seen antisemitic content online or on social media in the past year.
Taken together with those who were personally targeted, fully 85 percent of young American Jews – those ages 18 to 29 – were the target of antisemitism online or have seen it online at least once in the past 12 months (compared with 64 percent of Jews age 30 or older).
One in four of these young American Jews (26 percent), said the antisemitism they experienced online made them feel physically threatened, compared to 14 percent of their older counterparts.
Unsurprisingly, nearly three in ten (27 percent) of American Jewish respondents avoided posting content online that would identify them as a Jew or reveal their views on Jewish issues. But the figure jumps to 37 percent for young American Jews, ages 18-29, compared to 24 percent of US adults 30 and older.
Equally troubling, 26 percent of American Jews who now attend or recently attended college or had children attending college said they had trouble taking time off from class or were told they could not miss class for the Jewish holidays. One in five (21 percent) American Jews on campus said they have avoided wearing or carrying things that identify them as Jewish; and 18 percent said they have felt uncomfortable or unsafe at a campus event because they are Jewish.
The silver lining? Nine out of ten Americans in the general population (91 percent ) said they believe antisemitism is a problem for everyone and affects society as a whole. The same percentage also said they believe anti-Zionism, reflected in the phrase “Israel has no right to exist,” is antisemitic.
The surveys were conducted for the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee by the independent research firm SSRS. National representative samples of 1,507 Jews, ages 18 or older, were interviewed by telephone and online from September 28 – November 3, 2022, and 1,004 general population adults, 18 or older, via the SSRS Opinion Panel, from October 10 – October 18, 2022. The margin of error for Jewish respondents is +/-3.4 percentage points and for total U.S. adult respondents is +/-3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.