New AJC survey analyzes the rise in anti-Semitism

Last week, AJC (American Jewish Committee) released what it is calling a “landmark survey” on anti-Semitism in America, timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, which claimed the lives of 11 worshippers. One of the survey’s most disturbing findings: An overwhelming number of American Jews say they feel hatred against them is on the rise. 

Nearly nine out of 10 American Jews believe anti-Semitism has begun to spread in the United States. Eight out of 10 believe hatred toward Jews has been on the rise in the last five years. And neither age, political affiliation, nor level of religiosity makes much of a difference in who feels that way, according to the AJC survey.

Equally as distressing, nearly a third of American Jews — 31 percent — are hiding their Judaism. They have tucked their Star of David pendant into their blouse, removed their kippot and avoided publicly wearing, carrying or displaying other things that might help people identify then as Jewish. In addition, a quarter of respondents say they avoid certain places, events or situations out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews at least some of the time.

“American Jews could not be clearer about the reality of anti-Semitism in the U.S.,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a new release. “Our survey provides, for the first time, an in-depth assessment of American Jewish perceptions of, and experiences with, anti-Semitism in their own country. This hatred is real, comes from multiple sources, and is growing. It needs to be taken seriously and dealt with in a sustained, multi-pronged response.”

AJC’s “2019 Survey of American Jewish Attitudes about Anti-Semitism” was based on telephone interviews carried out from Sept. 11 to Oct. 6, with a national sample of 1,283 Jews over age 18. 

Other notable takeaways include:

• One-third of American Jews say Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated have been targeted by anti-Semitic attacks, graffiti, or threats.

• While American Jews agree that law enforcement is effective in responding to the Jewish security needs, few victims of anti-Semitism report them to the police.

• The American Jewish community is generally concerned that elected officials are not doing all that can and should be done to fight anti-Semitism in the United States effectively.

• Nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling anti-Semitism and significantly more see the extreme political right as more of a serious threat to them than the extreme political left.

• American Jews assign greater responsibility to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party for the current level of anti-Semitism in the United States.  On a scale of 1 (no responsibility) to 10 (total responsibility), respondents gave the Republican Party an average score of 6.2, while the Democratic Party scored 3.6. While those who identify as Republican or Democrat tend to blame the other party, American Jews also view their own parties as having responsibility for the current level of anti-Semitism in the United States, with each rating their own party with similar scores of 2.7.

• Asked to characterize the statement “Israel has no right to exist,” 84 percent of the respondents described it as anti-Semitic.

The AJC survey, conducted by the independent research firm SSRS, has a margin of error of 4.2 percent. To read the complete survey, go to www.ajc.org.