More than 75% of US Jews feel less safe after October 7 attacks

A quarter of American Jews also reported having been the target of an antisemitic remark, vandalism or physical attack


A member of the New York Police Department patrols in front of a synagogue on October 13, 2023 (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

(JNS) More than three-quarters of US Jews report feeling less safe as Jews in the United States after Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks in southern Israel, according to the American Jewish Committee’s 2023 survey of antisemitism in America.

The AJC began polling American Jews on October 5, but after October 7, the nonprofit opted to pause its questionnaire. It relaunched on October 17, conducting surveys until November 21.

The AJC released the survey, which it has conducted of Jews since 2019, and of Jews and the general public in parallel since 2020. It released the latest survey of 1,528 Jewish American adults on Tuesday.

Of those surveyed after October 7, a whopping 98 per cent self-reported being aware of the attack. Among those who were aware, some 20 per cent feel a “great deal” less safe as Jews because of the attack. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) feel a “fair amount” less safe and 34 per cent “a little” less safe, according to the survey.

The poll found sharp increases in the number of Jews who said that in the past year, they have felt less safe or changed their behavior out of fear of Jew-hatred.

Nearly two-thirds of American Jews (63 per cent) told the AJC that the status of Jews in the United States is less secure than it was a year ago, compared with just 31 per cent of Jews who reported that two years prior. (In 2022, 41 per cent said the country was less secure for Jews than the prior year.)

Nearly half of American Jews (46 per cent) said they have either avoided identifying themselves as Jews in online posts or by their clothing choices or have forgone places or events out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews. That’s up from 38 per cent who said in 2022 that they did at least one of those things.

A quarter of American Jews also reported having been the target of an antisemitic remark, vandalism or physical attack in the past year, which is “virtually identical” to AJC’s findings from 2022, the nonprofit said.

Ted Deutch, AJC’s CEO, said in a statement that the new findings should alarm all Americans, as well as spur action from Congress and the White House.

“No one should be fearful of being targeted or harassed for being Jewish when walking down the street, going to school or being at work,” Deutch stated. “We’ve seen that antisemitism has been increasing—even before the horrific October 7 Hamas terrorist attack against Israel. This isn’t a new problem, but the explosion of antisemitism since October 7 demands that we take collective action now.”

The AJC also released a companion poll on Tuesday that it conducted from October 17 to 24. In the second poll, the AJC surveyed the general public of American adults about their opinions on antisemitism.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents reported believing that Jew-hatred is a problem in the United States today, compared with 60 per cent who held that view in 2021. That’s in sharp contrast to the 93 per cent of American Jews who believe that antisemitism is a problem in the country today. More than half of US Jews (53 per cent) said antisemitism today is a “very serious” issue.

Like other recent polling, the AJC general public survey also suggests that younger American adults, aged 18 to 29, have concerning attitudes towards Jews and antisemitism.

Americans under 30 are less likely (65 per cent) than older Americans (75 per cent) to consider antisemitism to be a problem today. Those aged 18 to 29 are also considerably less likely (40 per cent) than over-30s (60 per cent) to believe that antisemitism in the United States has increased in the past five years.

Younger Jews are both likelier than their older peers to say that they have experienced antisemitism in the past year (36 per cent to 22 per cent) and to believe that antisemitism is not a “very serious” problem in the United States (44 per cent to 55 per cent).

The AJC also found differences in which American Jews reported being victims of antisemitism. Those who self-identified as Orthodox were more than twice as likely (39 per cent) to have been the target of antisemitism in the past year than those who are secular (19 per cent). Those who identified with other Jewish denominations reported being the target of Jew-hatred at a rate of 26 per cent.

Deutch said that the findings show the need to implement the Biden administration’s national strategy to combat antisemitism.

“Now that we have this road map, we need to be sure to use it,” he stated. “The strategy can no longer be seen as a recommendation, but rather a requirement that will help protect the American Jewish community.”

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