A third of US Jews changed behavior due to antisemitism

A report surveyed adult American Jews and the general American public, who were asked about their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism.

Have some American Jews replaced Judaism with liberalism? (photo credit: REUTERS)
Have some American Jews replaced Judaism with liberalism?
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Approximately one in four American Jews has been the target of antisemitism over the past 12 months, a new survey has found.

The American Jewish Committee released its 2021 State of Antisemitism in America report on Tuesday, and it draws a grim picture. Some 39 percent of American Jews have changed their behavior out of fear of antisemitism, the survey found.

The change of behavior included 25% who have avoided posting content online that would enable others to identify them as Jewish or reveal their views on Jewish issues; 22% who have avoided wearing or displaying things that might enable others to identify them as Jewish; and 17% who have avoided certain places, events, or situations due to concerns about their safety or comfort as Jews.

The survey, conducted by the independent research firm SSRS, included both American Jews and the general American public who are at least 18 years old. Both groups were asked about their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism over the past 12 months, including during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May.

Some 1,433 Jews were interviewed, as well as 1,214 adults from the general population. The margin of error for both surveys is +/-3.9 percentage points.

 Whether in support or increasingly through criticism, Israel is what connects most American Jews to their Judaism.  (credit: REUTERS) Whether in support or increasingly through criticism, Israel is what connects most American Jews to their Judaism. (credit: REUTERS)

Within the 24% of American Jews who said they were target of antisemitism over the past 12 months, some 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. The survey also found that 41% of Americans of all backgrounds have personally witnessed an antisemitic incident in the last 12 months, with 31% having witnessed more than one.

According to the survey, many of these incidents go unreported. Of those who had been the targets of antisemitism online or through social media, 95% did not report the incidents to police, although almost a fifth (18%) said these incidents made them feel physically threatened, AJC said in a statement.

In addition, almost all (96%) of those who had been a target of an antisemitic remark in person did not report the incidents to the police.

The survey also found differences of views between US Jews and the general public. While 82% of American Jews believe antisemitism has increased over the past five years, only 44% of the general public shares that view.

It also found that about a third of Americans over the age of 18 still are not familiar with the term “antisemitism,” while the other two-thirds have heard of it and know what it means, representing an increase compared to last year.

Among Jewish responders, 53% approve of how President Joe Biden is responding to antisemitism in the United States while 28% disapprove, the survey found. Half of Jewish responders also said that they believe antisemitism on college campuses has increased over the past five years.

“This critical report confirms that American Jews are deeply concerned about antisemitism in America – and many are limiting their behavior as a result,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a statement.

“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.”