(JTA) — Large majorities of American Jews are worried for their safety amid Israel’s war with Hamas and believe antisemitism is on the rise, according to a new poll.
And the vast majority of American Jews support military aid for Israel. Most Americans overall also support military aid for Israel, the poll found. The Jewish Federations of North America, which commissioned the poll, had initially included data about whether respondents approved of President Joe Biden’s Israel policy, but later said that data was inaccurate.
According to the poll, which was published Thursday, 75% of American Jews are either very or somewhat concerned that the war will cause issues in terms of security and safety in their communities. Nearly three in 10 said they knew of “physical acts of violence or acts of hate” against Jews in their communities.
And 72% of Jews said antisemitism in their local communities has increased over the past few weeks. Zero percent believe it has decreased. Most Jews also believe antisemitism will continue to increase.
The poll, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, is the first measure of the sentiments of American Jews since Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a war in Gaza in which Israel has vowed to defeat the terror group. In the weeks since the war began, law enforcement agencies and Jewish security groups have documented a spike in antisemitic acts. Earlier this week, a Jewish man near Los Angeles died following a confrontation with a pro-Palestinian protester.
Asked to describe how they feel or the climate in their local community since the war started, 32% of Jews responded “tense,” 21% said “uncomfortable” and 20% said “scary.” Sixteen percent of Jews said it felt “normal.”
A broad spectrum of Jewish groups have come out in support of Israel, pressed the Biden administration to support its military campaign and staged rallies on behalf of Israel and the hostages held by Hamas. Jewish groups are planning a large rally in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to drive home those messages and speak out against antisemitism.
At the same time, a small number of Jewish groups have delivered statements and staged a series of large rallies and actions calling for a ceasefire and placing blame for the conflict on Israel, which they have accused of “genocide.”
The poll did not ask about the particulars of Israeli policy or the war. The words “Gaza,” “hostages” and “ceasefire” do not appear in its questions. But Eric Fingerhut, the CEO of the Jewish Federations, said the poll results show that those demonstrations do not represent most Jews or Americans.
“We know that large majorities of Americans support Israel in its fight against terror, and it’s important not to let a vocal minority warp that view,” he said in a statement.
The poll was taken form Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 and reached respondents via text message. It included 3,777 American adults, including 2,199 Jews. The margin of error was approximately 1.5% for the overall sample and 2% for the Jewish respondents.
The survey found that 85% of Jews and 53% of Americans overall have been following news about the war closely. An additional 15% of Jews are following the war news somewhat closely.
Regarding U.S. military aid to Israel, 73% of jews said it’s very important and 14% said it is somewhat important, versus 13% who said it’s not too, or not at all, important. Among U.S. adults overall, 60% say it is important and 40% say it is not.
The survey also found that both Jews and Americans overall feel there is significant prejudice in the United States against Jews, Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians. Two-thirds of Jews said there is “a lot” of discrimination against Jews, and an additional 26% said there is some, for a total of 92%. Likewise, 78% of Americans overall said Jews face a lot or some discrimination.
In addition, approximately 75% of Jews said Arabs as well as Muslims face discrimination in America, and 66% of Jews said Palestinians face discrimination. Majorities of Americans overall also said those groups face discrimination.
Jewish respondents have felt less secure over the past month, with 42% saying they have worried for their personal safety very much or all the time during that period, and an additional 30% saying they are somewhat worried. And 74% of Jews said there is a lot of antisemitism in the United States today; 86% say there’s more antisemitism than there was five years ago.
Jews who wear Jewish symbols were twice as likely to say they worried for their personal safety “all the time.”