A new survey reveals that almost one-third of American Jews avoid wearing clothing or displaying items that would publicly identify them as Jewish due to concerns about anti-Semitism.
In addition to finding that many fear the consequences of openly showing Jewish identity, the survey found almost 90% of respondents believe anti-Semitism is a problem in America, with over 80% saying it has increased in the past five years. The survey, released Wednesday and conducted by the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group for Jews in the United States, found that worries about anti-Semitism's rise in recent years was consistently high among all Jewish denominations, including the ultra-Orthodox, modern Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.
Twenty-five percent of Americans Jews said they sometimes "avoid certain places, events, or situations" out of safety concerns, and over 30% said they have refrained from "wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews." And while one-third said Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated have suffered anti-Semitic attacks or threats, few victims of anti-Semitic incidents report them to the police.
As for ascribing blame, American Jews say the Republican Party is more responsible than the Democratic Party for the current state of anti-Semitism in the U.S., and over 70% disapproved of President Trump's handling of anti-Semitism. Over 80% of respondents said the extreme political Right and, separately, extremism in the name of Islam threaten American Jews, while 64% said the same of the extreme political Left.
American Jews are also inclined to see statements or actions targeting Israel as anti-Semitic. Eighty-four percent said the statement "Israel has no right to exist" is anti-Semitic, and 80% said the insinuation that the U.S. only supports Israel because of Jewish money is anti-Semitic. Nearly three-quarters said it is anti-Semitic to suggest American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the US. Over 80% said the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is either mostly anti-Semitic or not mostly anti-Semitic, but has anti-Semitic supporters.
The survey was conducted by telephone over a multi-week period in September and October 2019 and included 1,283 respondents who were adults of Jewish religion or background. Its release comes just four days before the one-year anniversary of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead and several others wounded.