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One in 10 Americans thinks it’s okay to call for violence against Jews or Muslims

Two new surveys find 90% of American Jews think antisemitism has increased and almost half of college-bound Jewish students say it has affected their choice of university.
Jackie Hajdenberg
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Published: 4 April 2024

Last updated: 4 April 2024

(JTA) — Most Americans, and nearly 90% of American Jews, say they have seen a rise in antisemitism since Oct. 7, according to a new study.

But the survey also found that one in 10 respondents says Americans should be allowed to call for violence against Jews or Muslims. By contrast, 73% say such calls should be prohibited.

The survey, published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, comes following widespread reports of rising antisemitism in the United States since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. It found that increasing shares of Americans, and American Jews, believe there is a high level of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the United States. 

But along with the minority of respondents who say calls for antisemitic or anti-Muslim violence should be allowed, the survey showed that most Americans say advocacy for the end of a Jewish state or the prevention of a Palestinian one should also be permitted. Adults under 50 were slightly more likely than older Americans to say that calls for violence against either religious group should be allowed.

Only 36% of parents surveyed said antisemitism would not affect their child's choice of university.

Many Americans particularly sense that discrimination against Muslims and Jews has risen since the start of the Israel-Hamas war,” reads an introduction to the survey on Pew’s website. “The vast majority of U.S. Muslims and Jews themselves agree.”

The text adds, “It finds that Americans are broadly comfortable with speech both for and against Israeli and Palestinian statehood. But most U.S. adults are not OK with calls for violence against Jews or Muslims.”

The survey, taken in February, polled more than 12,600 people and had an overall margin of error of 1.5%. The margins of error for the Jewish and Muslim segments were 3.3% and 8.4%, respectively.

74% of American Jews and 60% of Muslims say they have been personally offended by something they saw or read about the Israel-Hamas war.

It comes following a Pew survey showing most Jewish Americans support Israel’s war against Hamas, as well as how it is being fought. Americans overall are mostly supportive of Israel’s reasons for going to war and are split on Israel’s military conduct. 

The survey showed that 67% of Muslims and 72% of Jews perceive “a lot” of discrimination against their own respective groups. But only 17% of Muslims reported seeing a lot of discrimination against Jews, the lowest number of any religious group polled. Among Americans overall, 40% say there is a lot of discrimination against Jews, double the figure from a 2021 poll. 

Meanwhile, 57% of Jews polled say there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims, the highest number of any non-Muslim religious group polled. Still, that figure represents a decline from the 2013 survey of American Jews, in which 72% of Jews said Muslims face a lot of discrimination. In Tuesday’s survey, 44% of Americans overall said Muslims face a lot of discrimination. 

Among respondents younger than 30, most said Muslims face a lot of discrimination, while only 31% said Jews face a lot of discrimination.

Overall, majorities of Americans — as well as majorities of Jews — are comfortable with speech both for and against Palestinian statehood, and for and against Israel existing as a Jewish state. Slightly more than a third of Jews said calling for the end of a Jewish state should be prohibited. 

The survey also found that 74% of American Jews and 60% of Muslims say they have been personally offended by something they saw or read on the news or on social media about the Israel-Hamas war. Roughly a quarter of each group says they have also stopped talking to someone in person or unfollowed or blocked someone online due to something that person said about the war.

Choosing universities affected by antisemitism

Another survey has found that nearly half of all Jewish college-bound students (49%) have written off a university they would have otherwise applied to because of the recent rise of antisemitism.

The poll, commissioned by Hillel International, the Jewish campus life organisation, surveyed 427 parents shows of college-bound students.

It also found 35% had or would refuse an offer from a college they had applied to because of concerns about antisemitism, 35% said that a top consideration in choosing a college was the existence of a large Jewish population, 49% said that the existence of Jewish organisations was critical, and 30 % said that their decision could hinge on whether the school president had issued a statement condemning Hamas after the October 7 massacre. Only 36% said antisemitism would not affect their children's choices.

About the author

Jackie Hajdenberg is a reporter at JTA. Her reporting and writing has appeared in USA Today, PBS Frontline, the Detroit Free Press, Vox, and Alma.


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