June 09, 2021
In the past month, the American Jewish community has been under increased threat of violence and harassment. Early data from ADL suggests antisemitic incidents have increased significantly, both online and offline, after the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians returned to the national spotlight.
We wanted to follow up on the survey we conducted earlier this year of Jewish Americans to learn about their experiences with antisemitism, online and off, to help determine whether those experiences changed following the recent violence in Israel that began on May 10, 2021. From May 25 to June 1, 2021, we polled a nationally representative sample of American Jewish adults on our behalf, asking questions about their recent experiences with antisemitism. Their responses indicate that American Jews have witnessed more antisemitic incidents, are concerned for their safety, and feel there is more that leaders should be doing to address this.
Increased Concern about Antisemitism and Safety
We asked American Jews whether their concerns have changed because of the recent violence. The vast majority (77 percent) of those polled specified that they were much more or somewhat more concerned about antisemitism in America because of the recent violence. Similarly, 75 percent were more worried about antisemitism in other countries because of the recent violence. Of particular concern, 41 percent of American Jews surveyed indicated they are more concerned about their personal safety because of the violence.
Majority of Jews have Witnessed Recent Antisemitism
We also asked American Jews about their experience with antisemitic behavior and comments as a result of the recent violence. We found that 60 percent of Jews in America have witnessed behavior or comments they deem antisemitic either online or in-person as a result of the recent violence. This share is particularly striking given that the time period in question was only three weeks from the start of the violence through the end of the survey period. As a point of comparison, our survey of Jewish American's experience with antisemitism from January this year found roughly the same share (63 percent) had experienced or witnessed antisemitic behavior or comments at some point in the prior five years. Consistent with that, we found that over half of Jews (53 percent) have witnessed more behavior or conduct deemed antisemitic in the three-week period at issue than before the recent violence. Additionally, 18 percent have seen one or more of their personal relationships suffer because of conversations about the recent violence.
A Majority of Jews View Certain Types of Anti-Israel Critiques as Antisemitic
The Israel-Palestinian conflict gave rise to often-intense emotions among supporters on all sides, sometimes leading to harsh language. We asked American Jews to share their opinions on whether they consider certain types of statements or behaviors that have occasionally appeared at protests or online to be antisemitic. Two-thirds or more of American Jews considered the following to be definitely or probably antisemitic: saying that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state (75 percent); comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis (70 percent); or protesting Israeli actions outside an American synagogue (67 percent). Calling Zionism racist (61 percent); calling for companies and organizations to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel (56 percent); or calling Israel an apartheid state (55 percent) are also considered by the majority of Jews to be definitely or probably antisemitic.
American Jews Want Politicians and Groups to Do More to Address Antisemitism
We also asked American Jews to what extent they think various groups have helped address recent antisemitism in America. The overall scores were fairly low. President Biden and his administration received the best marks, with 42% of Jews saying that actions from the Administration have greatly or somewhat helped.
The vast majority of Jews want all groups measured to do more to address recent antisemitism, with at least three-quarters wanting President Biden and his Administration (76 percent), Democrats in Congress and states (78 percent), Republicans in Congress and states (79 percent), civil rights groups (77 percent), and non-Jewish faith leaders (76 percent) to do somewhat or a lot more.
The survey was conducted by YouGov, a leading public opinion and data analytics firm, on behalf of ADL. The survey of Jewish American adults over the age of 18 (who were aware of the current conflict between Israel and Palestinians) was conducted online from May 25 through June 1, 2021. We asked about their experiences and perceptions since the recent violence in May between Israel and Palestinians. A total of 576 responses were collected from Jewish Americans, 18 and older, and weighted to reflect the demographic makeup of Jewish people across the United States, according to Pew Research Center. Participants are rewarded for general participation in YouGov surveys but were not directly rewarded for their participation in this survey. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
ADL gratefully acknowledges the ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Antisemitism for its sustained support and commitment to fighting antisemitism. ADL also thanks its individual, corporate and foundation advocates and contributors, whose votes of confidence in our work provide the resources for our research, analysis and programs fighting antisemitism and hate in the United States and around the globe.