Forty percent of American Jews feel less secure than a year ago, AJC survey finds
Study finds that around a third of Jews feel uncomfortable at school or in the workplace, and the Jewish community is divided on how well the government is responding
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More than four in 10 American Jews felt less secure in 2022 than the year before —a 10-point jump from 2021 — with rising antisemitism resulting in a “frightening impact” on the comfort levels of members of the Jewish community. That was a key takeaway from a survey released Monday morning by the American Jewish Committee, which measured attitudes on antisemitism both within and outside the Jewish community.
The survey of 1,507 American Jews, which was conducted between Sept. 28 and Nov. 3, 2022, indicated the widespread impact of antisemitism on the American Jewish community. AJC also surveyed 1,004 members of the American public at large between Oct. 10 and Oct. 18.
The first survey found that 26% of Jewish respondents were personally the target of antisemitic incidents in 2022, including antisemitic attacks, antisemitic remarks in person and antisemitic remarks online; 23% are affiliated with an institution that has been targeted by antisemitism in the past five years; and 87% have seen antisemitic content online.
Thirty-three percent of respondents said they’d experienced anti-Jewish bias or discomfort in the workplace, while 36% of students, recent graduates and their parents said that they had experienced issues on campus.
“The importance of this overall survey is to help us move past our focus on the rising antisemitism. We’re aware of rising antisemitism, but we really want people to understand the impact that that is having on the Jewish community and, in particular, on younger Jews,” AJC CEO Ted Deutch told reporters last week in a preview of the survey’s findings. “The survey shows that the antisemitism that we’ve seen has a real and frightening impact on the attitudes of American Jews, on the comfort of American Jews in American society, at their workplace and in their educational institutions.”
The study also found that American Jews are divided on how well the government is responding to antisemitism. Forty-eight percent said they approved of the job President Joe Biden has done — down from 54% in 2021 — and 34% said they disapproved. But a majority, 56%, said they disapproved of the way Congress has responded, with just 22% approving, down from 28% the year prior. Forty percent of respondents were satisfied with how their state and local governments are responding. The survey was conducted prior to the announcement of the White House task force on antisemitism and Islamophobia.
“It’s a question of the urgency of taking action,” Deutch said, of the overall survey. “There’s been a call for more action by the federal government for some time. Now, there is an effort, thankfully, to create a national action plan. This highlights why that’s necessary.”
Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported having changed their behavior — modifying where they go, what they wear or carry or what they post online — in response to fear of antisemitism, and half said that institutions with which they are affiliated have increased security in recent years.
In the American population at large, 36% of respondents reported having personally seen an antisemitic incident — the vast majority of which occurred online. Sixty-eight percent of Americans said that antisemitism is a problem, compared to 89% of Jews who said the same. Jewish and non-Jewish Americans in general disagree on whether antisemitism is increasing — 80% of the Jewish individuals surveyed believe it is increasing, compared to 47% of the general population.
Around 90% of Jewish and non-Jewish respondents agreed that saying “Israel has no right to exist” is antisemitic.
“Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Americans agree [antisemitism is] a problem,” Deutch said. “So we need to work together to solve it.”
He added that the results indicate that AJC and the Jewish community need to be working more closely with the business community to make sure that Jews feel comfortable in the workplace, as well as on college campuses — not only to respond to antisemitic incidents but also to “make sure… there’s a greater understanding of what antisemitism does to the Jewish community on campus.”
Deutch said the results relating to antisemitism on social media show that platforms’ policies “either [are] not being followed well enough or they’re not tough enough.”
“There are a lot of things that need to happen that I hope will be part of [AJC’s] national action plan,” he concluded.