While it’s no longer news that anti-Semitic acts are on the rise in this country, the Pew Research Center has found that awareness of anti-Semitism is increasing, as well. According to a new Pew study released last week, 64 percent of Americans say Jews face at least some discrimination. That’s a 20-point increase from 2016. And the share saying Jews face “a lot” of discrimination has gone up from 13 to 16 percent.
Much has been written about the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism, with lots of finger pointing and attribution of blame. We choose not to enter that debate at this time. Suffice it to say that recent public manifestations of anti-Jewish hate — from neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville to an armed bigot murdering Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh — are chilling, and it is good to know that so many of our fellow Americans recognize hate when they see it.
Yet drilling down in the findings of the survey, there appear to be interesting deviations in perception regarding discrimination and its victims — perceptions that fall along political lines. These differences serve as another reminder that our country’s deepening political divide has ramifications beyond political preference, to the point where our political leanings may also cause us to perceive things differently.
Thus, 70 percent of Democrats said there is discrimination against Jews; while only 55 percent of Republicans said the same. And, according to Pew, the percentage in both parties who believe Jews face “a lot” of discrimination has doubled since 2016 — from 15 percent to 28 percent among Democrats and from 9 percent to 20 percent among Republicans.
The survey found that Democrats perceive more discrimination against minorities than Republicans, whose views on this subject have not changed much in recent years. Indeed, the only groups besides Jews that Republicans identify as experiencing increased discrimination now are evangelicals, whites and men.
While the majority of those surveyed say that blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, and Jews experience discrimination, all of the percentages have stayed nearly the same since 2016. There are two exceptions: Republicans perceive less discrimination against gays and lesbians than in 2016; and both Democrats and Republicans perceive increased discrimination against Jews. That uniform recognition — even if the precise percentages vary — makes clear that we need to support communal and national efforts to expose, confront and defend against anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it rears its hateful head.
Jews are clearly at risk. We need to be vigilant. At the same time, our community needs to continue to be sensitive to and defend against discrimination against other minorities, since the shared fight against prejudice in all of its forms helps elevate the effort to counter discrimination that hits closest to home. We are our communal brothers’ keepers, and we want them to be ours.
Pew tells us that increasing percentages of us are recognizing discrimination. We now need to focus on uniting to fight against it.