Antisemitism in the U.S.: A state of emergency


November 17, 2022

Editor’s note: CHN Intern Emily Rodriguez is a senior majoring in sociology at Brigham Young University.

American Jews make up 2.4 percent of the U.S. adult population. Although this may not sound like very many, this means that approximately 5.8 million adults identify as Jewish in the United States, a number similar in size to Wisconsin’s population, but five times less than Kanye West’s 30 million Twitter followers. Despite being only 2.4 percent of the U.S. population, a staggering 60.3 percent of all religious-based hate crimes target Jews.

Antisemitism has been called the “longest hatred” or “history’s oldest hatred.”  Opening any history book anywhere in the world will prove this to you. And while it has adapted and presents itself differently now, antisemitism is once again on the rise.

Within the last few weeks, we have seen Ye (formally known as Kanye West) tweeting nonsensical and dangerous claims, basketball player Kyrie Irving promoting an antisemitic movie, banners hanging from freeways accompanied by Nazi salutes, and the FBI warning of  broad threats to synagogues. Antisemitism is a chronic disease and we’re currently living through an outbreak.

The Anti-Defamation League, an international anti-hate organization, reported 2,717 antisemitic acts in the United States in 2021. This is a 34 percent increase from the year before and the highest number ever recorded by the organization. The ADL notes that antisemitic acts have tripled within the last 10 years.

“This is no longer a situation of concern,” said Jonathan Greenblatt at the Never is Now Summit. “This is a state of emergency.”

Never is Now, the biggest antisemitism summit in the world, took place last week in New York City. With thousands of participants watching in person and virtually, Never is Now used this opportunity to emphasize the threat to Jewish people all over the world.

“Do you feel safe?” Jay Sures asked Jasmin Beroukhim, a panelist and UCLA student. Beroukhim responded firmly, “No, it’s a truly difficult time to be a Jewish student on campus. We feel as though we are continuously fighting antisemitism alone.”

These feelings are not unique to Beroukhim or UCLA, as 55 percent of Jewish college students reported experiencing antisemitism on their college campus. An even more serious issue is that only 28 percent of Jewish college students felt that their school administration took antisemitism and their safety seriously. Based on these findings, it should come as no surprise that only half of the students who experienced antisemitism reported it.

Thankfully, we don’t need to stand by as these crimes continue to grow in frequency and severity. We have the power to prevent antisemitic acts from continuing to spread.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, identified 3 steps we can all take to stop antisemitism.

The first: consistently speak out against hate whenever it happens. The second: pull out your phone and take the time to join ADL’s advocacy efforts. The third step, and the one Greenblatt identifies as most important: don’t lose hope.

“Our struggle is your struggle, it’s America’s struggle,” Greenblatt concludes.

Regardless of who we are it is our responsibility to join the fight against antisemitism.