For the first time, we have comprehensive national survey data about how American Jews feel about anti-Semitism.
The American Jewish Committee, a nonprofit Jewish advocacy group, has polled Jewish opinion for decades. On the subject of anti-Semitism, they’ve traditionally just asked American Jews whether they are concerned, or whether it’s an important issue for the country. A 1982 survey found that about two-thirds of Jews considered anti-Semitism in America a “very important” concern.
Their newest survey was released Wednesday. It showed that nearly nine out of every 10 Jews thinks that anti-Semitism is a problem in the U.S., and 84% think anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years.
The Forward has been closely following and reporting on the trends of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. Here’s a run-down of our best work on anti-Semitism:
What does the data say?
For a comprehensive run-down of the statistics behind anti-Semitic incidents in America, read this newsletter from the spring, which comes at the question from several different angles.
In April, we asked our readers to give their thoughts on anti-Semitism in America. Their responses ran the gamut from “relax, eat something” to grave concern.
FBI data has indicated a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents. But most hate incidents involving Jews are nonviolent, and involve graffiti or minor vandalism.
What do the experts think?
Many people questioned whether anti-Semitic incidents are indeed rising sharply, or just if we’re more aware of individual reports. Still, fears of anti-Semitic attacks are undeniably higher.
We do know that, according to the Anti-Defamation League nearly every anti-Semitic act carried out by an extremist [was the work of a white nationalist group or someone with ties to a white nationalist group.] In 2017, the ADL tied the Trump campaign and his election to a spike in anti-Semitic incidents at the time.
Famous writers are also wrestling with the subject. Talya Zax, the Forward’s deputy culture editor, recently reviewed New York Times columnist Bari Weiss’s treatise on combating anti-Semitism.
# Who is most at risk?
Visibly Jewish people in Brooklyn — primarily Haredi Jews — have been repeatedly attacked in vicious anti-Semitic hate crimes. Laura Adkins, JTA’s opinion editor, has been tracking the individual attacks in epic Twitter threads.
Here’s a lovely new thread about anti-Semitic attacks in NYC this year alone. 1st, let’s recap Jan and early Feb: 33 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in NYC, of 55 hate crimes reported total. Incidents include Orthodox Jews beaten, choked, chased.https://t.co/BYdra8Qrmt— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) August 27, 2019
The attacks have roiled neighborhoods with large Hasidic populations. Crown Heights, which has a history of black-Jewish strife, has struggled with how to respond to the attacks, which are frequently carried out by racial minorities. Despite community efforts to end the violence, the attacks have persisted.
Orthodox writers, such as the Forward’s Life editor Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, have asked, “Why does no one care about violence against Orthodox Jews?”
What can we do?
There are many ways to combat rising anti-Semitism in the United States. One answer is to turn to other minority groups that live with the risk of violence, to seek allies.
Some believe that laws that prevent people from boycotting or divesting from Israel and Israeli businesses can help stem anti-Semitism. Others say that such laws will ultimately work against the Jews.
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