Holocaust Remembrance Day

Two-thirds of US Jews feel less safe than a decade ago – survey

New ADL poll, conducted before height of coronavirus pandemic, finds more than 54% of American Jews say they’ve witnessed anti-Semitic comments

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Anti-Semitic graffiti is written on the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine on October 31, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images/AFP)
Anti-Semitic graffiti is written on the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine on October 31, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images/AFP)

Almost two-thirds of American Jews feel less safe than at any other time in the last 10 years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

The survey, conducted before the coronavirus pandemic broke out in North America and published on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, also found that more than half of US Jews say they’ve witnessed an incident motivated by anti-Semitism.

“Our tracking has shown that lethal and nonlethal ant-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in recent years, and now we’ve also found that American Jews are deeply concerned for their personal safety and their families’ and communities’ security in a way that they haven’t been in more than a decade,” said ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt.

“It is a sad state of affairs that in the face of widespread anxiety about antisemitic attacks, some Jewish Americans are modifying their routines and avoiding public displays of Judaism to minimize the risk of being targeted,” he said.

The survey was conducted by the YouGov polling company, which queried 538 American Jews in late January. The spread of the coronavirus has since increased anti-Jewish sentiments across the globe, Greenblatt acknowledged.

“We recognize the reality on the ground has changed dramatically for Jewish communities, as it has for all communities, in recent months,” he said. He said his group would continue assessing anti-Semitism “in the current environment and its impact on the Jewish community,” and would share any additional insights in the weeks and months ahead.

A report released Monday by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of European Jewry and the European Jewish Congress indicated that the pandemic has indeed increased levels of hostilities toward Jews.

“The coronavirus-inspired antisemitic expressions constitute forms of traditional Jew-hatred, which mainly originates from extreme right activists, who also call to spread the virus among Jews, and from Muslim circles,” the report stated.

It also analyzed the situation in the US, where “a new phenomenon is emerging, one of increased violent anti-Semitic manifestations, with shooting sprees and numerous casualties, inspired mainly by right wing ideologies as well as by certain groups within the Black Hebrew Israelites and the Nation of Islam.”

Pallbearers carry the casket of Poway synagogue shooting victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye during a graveside service on April 29, 2019, in San Diego, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

According to the ADL poll, 49 percent of respondents said they have heard anti-Semitic comments, slurs or threats directed at others, while 21% reported to have been the victims of such harassment themselves.

More than 10% said they have “trouble sleeping or concentrating or feeling anxious” after experiencing online hate or harassment.

And one in seven respondents said he or she knows someone who has been physically attacked because they are Jewish.

“Roughly half of those surveyed said they were worried that a person wearing a yarmulke, religious skullcap or other public display of Judaism would be physically assaulted or verbally harassed on the street or in a public place,” according to the survey.

2019 saw several deadly anti-Semitic attacks on American Jews, including the April 27 shooting at the Chabad of Poway, a fatal shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey on December 10, and a stabbing during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, New York a few days later. On Monday, a judge ruled that the man accused in that stabbing was not mentally fit to stand trial.

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