At a time of growing concern about right-wing extremism in the United States, a new survey paints a troubling portrait of Jewish Americans’ experiences with anti-Semitism.
The survey, released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent Jewish civil rights group based in the U.S., said 63% of American Jews had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism over the past five years — a marked increase from the 53% of respondents who expressed the same view in last year’s ADL survey.
At the same time, 59% of the respondents in this year’s survey said they felt Jews were less safe in the U.S. today than they were a decade ago, while 49% expressed fear of a violent attack at a synagogue.
Impact clearly felt
“What this [report] does is it gives a very broad photograph of what the American Jewish experience is like today. And it is clearly one that is affected pretty profoundly by various forms of anti-Semitism or the expressions of anti-Semitism,” said Jessica Reaves, editorial director at ADL’s Center on Extremism.
The survey was conducted January 7-15 and collected responses from 503 Jewish Americans 18 years and older. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.
About 4.2 million American adults identify as Jewish “by religion,” representing 1.8% of the U.S. adult population, according to a 2013 Pew Research estimate. A more inclusive estimate by the American Jewish Year Book 2019 put the number at 6.9 million. Most live in major metropolitan areas that account for the bulk of anti-Jewish hate crimes.
Cities report declines
The new findings came as major U.S. cities reported sharp declines in the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2020 after experiencing historically high levels in 2019, when Jews were the No. 1 target of hate crimes in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Last year’s decline in anti-Jewish hate crimes came as social distancing restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic reduced opportunities for in-person encounters, according to experts.
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