A new American Jewish Committee survey, as this RNS story reports, has "found that 41% of American Jews said they were feeling less secure than a year ago, a 10 percentage point increase over a 2021 survey when 31% of American Jews said they felt less secure."
And it's another appalling piece of evidence revealing that destructive hatred stalks American streets despite the efforts of many well-meaning organizations that try to educate people about the many dangers of bigotry and systemic racism. Jew hatred arises from fear, which arises from mis- and disinformation, all of which in turn can lead to violence, as Jewish Americans know only too well and as the history of Jewish people throughout the world confirms.
The good news in the AJC survey, if you can call it good news, is that "less than a quarter (23%) said the Jewish institutions they attended had been subject to antisemitism (in the form of graffiti, threats or attacks) over the past five years, and 73% of American Jews said they felt safe attending Jewish institutions to which they are affiliated."
Those figures are good news only in the sense that they could have been worse.
The story to which I've linked you above also says that "the survey also shows that 38% of American Jews changed their behavior in the past 12 months out of fear of antisemitism. (That includes avoiding certain places or not wearing items of clothing that might identify them as Jews.) That figure has remained steady since 2021."
Antisemitism has deep roots in historic Christian anti-Judaism, as I describe in this essay found elsewhere on my blog. What that means is that Christianity has a special responsibility to undo the anti-Jewish preaching and teaching that has stained it almost since its beginning. And, indeed, many Christian branches have taken helpful steps to do just that. But so far it's not enough and neither, obviously, has it solved the problem.
If you're part of a Christian congregation and/or denomination, find out what it's doing to help. Same if you're a member of another faith tradition. And find resources to educate yourself and those around you. In the Kansas City area, that includes the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and SevenDays. I serve on the boards of the last two agencies.
If we devote time and energy to this problem, maybe next year's AJC survey will be more encouraging. In the meantime, I direct you to this Tablet column, which looks at the issue of antisemitism through one person's eyes. It's a good read.
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AND THERE'S THIS KIND OF HATRED, TOO
There are, of course, religious hatreds beyond antisemitism. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who wants to be president, no doubt experienced some of them as the daughter of Indian immigrants. Haley grew up Sikh but later converted to Christianity. This RNS column by another daughter of Indian immigrants describes what she -- and Haley -- went through in their girlhoods in the South because of their non-Christian heritage. As Khyati Y. Joshi writes, "Particularly for our generation of 1.5- and second-generation South Asian Americans who identify as Sikh, Hindu, Muslim or Jain, religious identity is a source of struggle, strife and isolation." In an increasingly pluralistic nation, the question is why that's still true. By now we should be a nation that embraces religious diversity in our population because it strengthens us.
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P.S.: The Dialogue Institute in the Kansas City area is hosting a Turkic food fair fundraiser for earthquake victims from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at its offices at 4215 Shawnee Dr., Kansas City, Kan. You're asked to RSVP via email to [email protected].