BY JEFFREY M. JONES, Gallup News, Washington, DC

Jewish Americans more likely to report mistreatment and to say it has increased

Americans are much more likely today than two decades ago to describe antisemitism, or prejudice against Jewish people, as a problem in the U.S. Nearly half of Americans now rate it “very serious,” sharply higher than the 9% when Gallup previously measured this in 2003. A combined 81%, up from 57%, now see antisemitism as either a very or somewhat serious problem.

This shift has occurred as the percentage of Americans saying antisemitism is “not much of a problem” has shrunk from 30% to 10%, while the percentage saying it is “not a problem at all” has been steady at just under 10%.

The latest results are based on a May 1-23 Gallup telephone survey with over 1,000 U.S. adults. Gallup last asked about antisemitism in 2003 when former U.S. Senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman ran for president, seeking to become the first Jewish major-party nominee.

In recent years, a number of crimes and rhetoric targeting Jewish Americans have sparked public concern and discussion about antisemitism. These include shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and a Poway, California, synagogue in 2019 that killed 12 Jewish worshippers. More recently, the Anti-Defamation League reported a surge in antisemitic incidents on college campuses and elsewhere in the months following the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and subsequent Israeli military action in Gaza.

To understand prejudice against Jewish people, it is also helpful to examine antisemitism in the context of prejudice against other faith groups. The May Gallup survey asked Americans, for the first time, how serious of a problem they consider prejudice against Muslim people in the U.S. The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents in 2023 compared with prior years.

Americans are significantly less likely to view prejudice against Muslim people as a very serious problem (33%) than to say prejudice against Jewish people is. However, the combined 74% who consider anti-Muslim prejudice to be either very or somewhat serious is closer to the 81% combined figure for anti-Jewish prejudice.

Older Americans Especially Concerned About Prejudice Against Jewish People

There are significant differences in perceptions of prejudice against Jewish people by age and party identification. Older Americans are far more likely than younger Americans to describe antisemitism as a very serious problem. Sixty-six percent of those aged 65 and older and 55% of those aged 50 to 64 say it is very serious, compared with 36% of those younger than 50.

Meanwhile, Republicans (63%) are more likely than Democrats (49%) and independents (40%) to describe anti-Jewish prejudice as a very serious problem.

In contrast to perceptions about the seriousness of anti-Jewish prejudice, older and younger Americans are about equally likely to believe anti-Muslim prejudice is a very serious problem. Roughly one-third of each age group holds this view.

There are bigger political differences in concerns about anti-Muslim bias than anti-Jewish bias, with Democrats expressing much more concern than Republicans about the treatment of Muslim people. Half of Democrats, compared with 18% of Republicans, say anti-Muslim prejudice is a very serious problem in the U.S., as do 30% of independents.

The telephone survey of 1,024 U.S. adults does not have sufficiently large samples of Jewish or Muslim Americans to provide reliable estimates of their views on these survey questions.

Jewish Americans Report Higher Levels of Mistreatment Than Others

A separate survey that interviewed more than 46,000 members of Gallup’s probability-based panel sought to measure Americans’ personal experiences of prejudice tied to their religious faith. Overall, 10% of U.S. adults say they have frequently (2%) or occasionally (8%) been treated poorly or harassed because of their religion. Half say they have not received any such treatment.

Jewish Americans are far more likely than Americans, generally, to say they were treated poorly or harassed in the past year — the period including the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and subsequent military action. More than one-third of Jewish Americans say this has happened frequently (11%) or occasionally (25%) to them. Meanwhile, 25% of Jewish Americans say they have rarely been treated poorly this past year, and 33% say this did not happen to them.

Americans who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church, also report above-average rates of poor treatment, with about one in five saying this has happened frequently (3%) or occasionally (18%) to them.

Jewish Americans from the Reform, Conservative or Orthodox denominations report similar levels of poor treatment.

The survey sample, though ample enough to report the results of the nation’s largest faith groups, did not have sufficient numbers of Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu respondents to report reliable estimates for those subgroups.

Nearly Half of Jewish Americans Say Mistreatment Has Increased

Jewish Americans are not only more likely than other subgroups to say they have been mistreated in the past year, but also more likely to say they have experienced increased poor treatment in the past year than previously. Forty-six percent of Jewish Americans say they have experienced more poor treatment or harassment in the past year than in prior years, contrasting with just 10% of all U.S. adults saying this about their faith-related experiences.

The figures for Americans in other major U.S. religious groups are similar to the national average and much smaller than for Jewish Americans.

Sources of Mistreatment

People of all religious faiths who say they have been treated poorly or harassed in the past year mostly attribute that mistreatment to people they don’t know personally.

  • Seventy-seven percent say that people they don’t know but have come into contact with have treated them poorly, and 73% say people online have done so.
  • About half say political or community leaders have said or done things that constituted poor treatment or harassment.
  • Smaller but still substantial minorities say family members (39%), coworkers (39%) or friends (37%) have treated them poorly because of their religious beliefs.

Jewish people who have received poor treatment are about as likely as others who have been mistreated because of their religious affiliation to say they have been treated poorly by people online (80%), people they have encountered in their community (82%) or leaders (61%). Compared with Americans who report mistreatment because of their religion, Jewish people are less likely to say they have been mistreated by family (14%), coworkers (21%) or friends (27%).

Most Jewish Americans Have Felt Reluctant to Share Their Religious Affiliation

One in four Americans say they have ever felt reluctant to share their religious affiliation with others because they feared being treated poorly or harassed. However, 60% of Jewish Americans — more than double the national average and the figures for Protestant (24%) and Catholic (26%) Americans — say this. A substantial minority of U.S. Mormons, 43%, are reluctant to share their religious affiliation.

As might be expected, Americans who have experienced poor treatment in the past year are much more likely than those who have not to say they have ever felt reluctant to share their religious affiliation (52% vs. 16%, respectively). That pattern is apparent among members of the major religious faiths. Seventy-two percent of Jewish people who have experienced poor treatment, versus 40% of Jewish people who have not, have felt reluctant to disclose their religious affiliation.

Bottom Line

Most Americans perceive that prejudice against Jewish people is a problem in the country today, with half considering it very serious. Jewish Americans’ recent experiences lend weight to those concerns, as more than one in three say they have been treated poorly or harassed because of their religious affiliation at least occasionally in the past year, and close to half say that poor treatment has increased compared with prior years. Perhaps as a direct consequence, most Jewish Americans say they have felt reluctant to reveal their religious affiliation to others.

Jewish Americans are not alone in experiencing faith-based prejudice in the U.S. However, such treatment is more frequent and more acute for Jewish Americans than for members of the other largest U.S. religious groups.