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Two-Thirds of American Jews say United States is Becoming Less Secure

One quarter of American Jews said they have been the target of anti-Semitism in the past year, according to a new national survey from the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The advocacy organization conducted the survey shortly after the start of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October.

The survey of 1,528 Jewish people in the United States found that the vast majority of respondents (93 percent) see anti-Semitism as a problem in the United States today, with 53 percent saying it is a very serious problem. In addition, 86 percent believe that anti-Semitism has increased in the United States during the past five years, and 63 percent said the status of Jews in the United States is less secure than a year ago.

In comparison, 56 percent of Americans overall said they believe anti-Semitism has increased in the United States in the past five years.

“If, before October 7, antisemitism was a slow-burning fire, it has now become a five-alarm emergency that requires all of us to douse its flames,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch in the introduction to the report.

In the 12 months prior to the survey, 39 percent of the general public surveyed said they had personally witnessed anti-Semitic incidents, such as negative remarks, online comments against Jewish people, or physical attacks against Jewish individuals or religious facilities.

A quarter of the American Jews surveyed said they had been the target of an anti-Semitic incident—including physical assault, a remark in person, or anti-Semitic vandalism or messaging—in 2023. More than 60 percent of respondents said they had seen anti-Semitic content online (including comments or posts) in 2023, and 22 percent of respondents said those online incidents made them feel physically threatened.

During the past five years, 25 percent of American Jews said that Jewish institutions they were affiliated with had been targeted by anti-Semitic activity, including graffiti, attacks, and threats. The majority of those Jewish facilities (64 percent) increased security measures during that same time period.

Some American Jews have changed their behavior out of fear of anti-Semitism, including avoiding wearing or displaying things that might help identify them as Jewish (26 percent), avoiding places or situations out of concern for safety or comfort as a Jewish person (26 percent), and avoiding posting content online that would identify the user as a Jew (30 percent). In addition, 15 percent of Jewish survey respondents said they have avoided wearing or displaying something that would identify them as Jewish in the workplace out of fear of anti-Semitism. In all, 46 percent of American Jews avoided at least one behavior in 2023 out of fear of anti-Semitism, the survey found.

The Israel-Hamas war has had widespread ramifications for Jewish and Muslim individuals worldwide, including increased harassment in the United States, the Associated Press reported. A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the organization received 774 reports of bias-related acts between 7 and 24 October, and the national headquarters got 110 direct reports, compared to 63 reports for all of August 2023. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that it recorded at least 312 reports of anti-Semitic incidents between 7 and 23 October, compared to 64 during the same time in 2022.