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US: Four out of ten Jewish Americans feel less secure, AJC poll finds

Jewish Americans feel an eroded sense of security and increased antisemitism in the US
A law enforcement vehicle sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue, on 16 January 2022, in Colleyville, Texas (AFP)

Over 40 percent of Jewish people polled by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) feel less secure in the US and say anti-semitism is a continuing threat, a new report by the organisation says. 

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The survey took into account 1,507 Jewish Americans and was conducted between 28 September and 3 November 2022. The results, which were released on Monday, show that over four in ten Jewish Americans feel their status is less secure compared to 2021. 

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When asked, “Do you view the statement, ‘Israel has no right to exist,’ as antisemitic or not?” Eighty-seven percent of respondents said yes. 

According to the survey, their “sense of security has eroded… primarily due in large part to the rise in antisemitic attacks, crimes, and violence; and how acceptable antisemitism and racism have become”.

The findings say that about 89 percent of Jewish Americans surveyed think antisemitism is a problem in the US, while 82 percent say it has increased in the past five years.

In December, the Biden administration formed a new inter-agency body to combat antisemitism, amid reports of an uptick in antisemitic rhetoric.

The agency will be led by the White House's Domestic Policy and National Security councils, and will consult with community leaders, government officials, lawmakers, and activists as it drafts a national strategy to tackle antisemitism and Holocaust denial, the White House said in a statement.

“This strategy will raise understanding about antisemitism and the threat it poses to the Jewish community and all Americans,” the statement said.

One in five American-Jewish respondents said they feel unsafe going to synagogues, Jewish day schools, community centres, or any other Jewish institution because of antisemitism. 

“One best practice in fighting antisemitism is when leaders of other communities do the speaking. People are more likely to listen to those they know, those they trust, and those who are like them,” Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s US director for combating antisemitism, said. 

“This is why we need white evangelical leaders to disavow white supremacy and antisemitic conspiracy theories like QAnon. We need Black leaders to condemn Louis Farrakhan’s antisemitism."

"We need Muslim leaders to condemn antisemitism or antisemitic tropes when they appear in their own communities and Latino leaders to speak out against antisemitism in their communities.”   

About 84 percent of Jewish adults under 30 said they had seen hateful content in the past year and 85 percent of young Jewish Americans ages 18 to 29 said they were the target of antisemitism online. 

“It’s a question of the urgency of taking action,” Ted Deutch, the CEO of AJC, said in a statement. “There’s been a call for more action by the federal government for some time."

Deutsch added that there is now an effort to create a "national action plan" because of how necessary it is. 

“Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Americans agree [antisemitism is] a problem,” Deutch said. “So we need to work together to solve it.”

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