Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90
Jewish American olim arrive at Ben Gurion airport, July 19, 2016.

The following item reminded me of the adage about how everybody is talking about the weather but nobody is doing anything about it. A study commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that “Ninety-three percent of American Jews are concerned with the current levels of antisemitism in the United States, with nearly half of US Jews (42%) experiencing antisemitism either directly or through family and friends over the past five years alone.”

That last bit is powerful: almost half of American Jews have had a direct or indirect clash with antisemitism. These are people for whom Jew-hatred is not a concept out of the history books but a real, here and now thing. And yet, nowhere in the survey does the obvious solution to a situation when you know for sure you are hated – get the heck out of there – does the word Aliyah appear as something hated Jews could do to escape their condition.

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Mind you, Israel is mentioned as part of the survey: “When exploring their connection to Israel, approximately one-third (34%) of respondents believe the relationship between Israel and US Jews has weakened during the last two years, including 40% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats. Only 12% identified the May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas as a reason for that weakened relationship, with 32% naming the increasing power of right-wing or ultra-religious Israeli political parties, 25% the treatment of Palestinians, 24% the mutual ties between Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump, and 24% Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank.”

In other words, Israel is that troubled place where religious zealots are running around oppressing Arabs with the blessings of the hated former president – by no means a sanctuary for American Jews whose neighbors are beginning to show them their real faces. This presumably includes folks who pray to God three times a day to deliver them from the diaspora to the promised land.

The survey finds some startling “gaps in basic knowledge about Israel,” a polite way of saying these people are ignorant of the realities of the Jewish State. For instance, 41% of respondents are unaware that Israel’s Arab citizens have voting rights, with 27% incorrectly asserting that Arab citizens cannot vote. Only 59% correctly identify Naftali Bennett as Israel’s prime minister, with 16% saying it’s Bibi Netanyahu. The rest just don’t know.

When it comes to US politics, American Jews perceive both major parties as pro-Israel; 69% stating this was the case for the Democratic Party and 71% for the Republican Party. Yet when delving further into this support, the majority see Democrats as pro-Israel but critical of the Israeli government’s policies, while the majority see Republicans as pro-Israel and supportive of its policies. Interestingly, both parties are seen to be moving in opposite directions with their support for Israel, with 54% believing the Democratic Party has become less pro-Israel and 39% stating that the Republican Party has become more pro-Israel.

Somebody should tell Senator Rand Paul (R- Kentucky).

Here’s a hopeful note: The survey found that 9% of those who are uninvolved in the Jewish community view antisemitism as a reason for involvement, showcasing that the issue is strong enough to engage a demographic unconnected to Jewish life. At least some US Jews can put two and two together and come up with four. Perhaps they’ll eventually take the math a little further and call their local Nefesh B’Nefesh office.

When asked how much they thought what happens to US Jews would have something to do with what happens in their own life, 82% acknowledged a shared fate. Even among those who do not value being Jewish, a majority (65%) feel what happens to other US Jews also has some effect on them. Please, God, let this be the start of a trend, let seeking a safer, happier life in their own country become the next fashionable thing for American Jews. Maybe a couple of timely New Yorker cartoons would help things along…

Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, commented: “Our survey reinforces the urgent need for American leadership to formulate new strategies to confront the surge of antisemitism and increasing hate crimes against the Jewish community. Accordingly, we hope that these findings spur local and national leaders into action on this critical issue. Antisemitism is a threat to American society as a whole and only in tackling this issue as one unified nation will it ever be truly addressed.”

Again, not one word about that ultimate option, where you and your spouse take the kids to the airport and go live in the luxury of a place where antisemitism is punishable by law.

The two-part survey, conducted by the Mellman Group, examined 2,500 Jewish American adults in December 2019 and a further 1,000 Jewish adults from October to November 2021.

Despite being conducted before the synagogue hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, the newly released survey amplifies the renewed fears over antisemitism nationwide in the aftermath of that attack. Seventy-five percent of American Jews believe that there is more antisemitism today in the US than there was five years ago.

Almost all American Jews (94%) say they see at least some antisemitism in the US over the past five years. One in three younger Jews (18-39 years old) says they have personally experienced antisemitism and 60% say they know a family or friend who has. Older Jews (over 60 years old) are more likely to have seen “a lot” of antisemitism (62%) than younger Jews (47%).

Alas, I fear these young ones are about to see a lot more.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.