The American Jewish Committee (AJC) today (Thursday) released new data showing how Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel continues to affect American Jews and make them feel less safe. These data come as the world prepares to mark 100 days since the October 7 Hamas massacre on January 14, 2024. Monday, January 15 also marks two years since the hostage situation at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, following which AJC found that a large majority of American Jews who heard about the crisis felt less safe.
As part of an AJC public opinion survey conducted this past fall, 78% of American Jews surveyed who had heard at least a little about the terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas said it made them feel a great deal (20%), a fair amount (23%), or a little (34%) less safe as a Jewish person in the United States. Unsurprisingly, virtually all U.S. Jews (98%) had heard at least a little about the October 7 attacks.
Those who felt at least a little less safe after the October 7 massacre were far more likely to have altered their behavior, such as not wearing something that would identify them as Jewish or avoiding certain places out of concern for their safety or comfort as a Jewish person, than those who did not feel less safe.
One survey participant said, “It is a very scary time to be a Jew anywhere in the world, but specifically in the U.S. and there is a lot to do as far as countering antisemitism and keeping America as a beacon of hope as it has always been for Jews.” Another noted, “While I do not currently have any family in Israel, I have close friends who either live there or have children living there. This recent terrorist attack by Hamas has shaken us to the core.”
“It is sadly not surprising that the vast majority of American Jews are feeling less safe today than they did before October 7, 2023,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “In the days, weeks, and months since the terror attack, the world has seen a staggering increase in antisemitic speech, anti-Jewish violence, and demonstrations glorifying Hamas terrorists. How are Jews supposed to feel secure when so many side with the murderers in the wake of the deadliest attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust?”
One survey participant said, “I am stunned and heartbroken by the recent terrorist attacks in Israel. I am shocked by the sizable vocal minority that is supporting Hamas. In many ways, I don't feel comfortable living in my country for the first time in my life.”
Another recalled that a local Jewish organization was looking to reschedule a children’s outdoor activity to an indoor option because a “walking trip around town no longer felt safe.”
American Jews over the age of 30 who had heard about the attacks were more likely to report the attacks made them feel at least a little less safe than their younger counterparts (80% compared to 67% under age 30). In addition, those who were personally targeted by antisemitism in the past year were also more likely to feel less safe (86% compared to 75% who had not personally experienced antisemitism in the past year).
The questions on the Hamas attack are included in AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report based on a survey of U.S. Jews and a comparison study of U.S. adults. The full report will be available next month.
The survey of Jewish adults was conducted for AJC, a nonpartisan organization, by the independent research firm SSRS from October 5 - November 21, 2023.