RIVERDALE, the Bronx (PIX11) — Results from an exhaustive survey released on Monday show antisemitism at near-record levels in the U.S.
The new statistics were released a day after information surfaced about a suspect in a Molotov cocktail attack on a synagogue in Bloomfield, New Jersey. That attack underscored how significant the problem of rising antisemitism is, but it also showed how strongly people from a variety of faiths, or no faith at all, are supporting efforts to stem the rising tide of hate.
The survey results were released at a news conference organized by Rep. Ritchie Torres, in coordination with the Anti-Defamation League, which conducted the survey.
Torres, who represents the central and western sections of the Bronx, including Riverdale, is not Jewish. However, he said, it’s vital for everyone to work against antisemitism in order to make attacks like the one in Bloomfield more and more rare.
“We must address and confront the antisemitic beliefs that inspire the violence,” Torres said at the morning news conference at the YM/YWHA Center here.
Scott Richman, the director of the ADL’s largest region — New York and New Jersey — laid out the results of survey, the latest in a long series of them every few years since 1964. This time, those results were even uglier than expected.
Over the last few decades, Richman said, “These surveys have shown a downward trend in antisemitic attitudes. That was until this year.”
“That downward trend has now reversed,” he said.
The survey lists 11 tropes, or stereotypes or misperceptions, about Jewish people, according to Richman, such as, “That Jews control the government,” he said.
That is, of course, untrue.
Nonetheless, the survey found that in 2019, 61 percent of Americans believed at least one of the 11 tropes along those lines. While that percentage is alarming, it’s low compared to the figures released on Monday.
The new survey found that in 2022, 85 percent of Americans believed at least one of the 11 tropes.
Worse still, said Richman about the list of 11 misperceptions, “Twenty percent of Americans… believe in at least six of them.”
Even worse, he said, “Three percent of Americans believed in all 11 tropes.”
“We’re talking about 10 million Americans,” he said, or one out of every 33 people in the country.
Outside the YM/YWHA, people who are members — Jewish and non-Jewish — had some similar reactions.
“I’m not surprised,” said Ellis Deloran, even though, he and everyone else said, they were disappointed.
Despite the grim new numbers, though, Meredith Summerville said that when she looks around her neighborhood and the region, “I do have optimism,” she said, and added, “but it’s upsetting.”
Many people who spoke with PIX11 News mentioned a Molotov cocktail attack over the weekend against a synagogue in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
While that act of hate was terrible, people said, it still showed resilience in many ways, including how diverse groups reinforce one another, especially during a crisis.
“People of different religious and ethnic groups can come together,” said Drew Kadel, a local resident and Episcopal priest, “and support one another, and they do.”
After the Molotov cocktail attack, area mosques, churches, Hindu temples and other houses of worship showed support for the attacked synagogue.
For its part, it had invested in recent years in boosting its protection against potential bias attacks. The congregation had installed protection barricades, panic buttons, and other measures of fortification and prevention.
Rabbi Mark Katz, who leads the congregation of Temple Ner Tamid, said, “Everything worked the way it should. our cameras caught a glimpse of the perpetrator. We have shatter resistant film on our window[s], which kept the Molotov cocktail from coming through our front door.”
The Essex County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the Molotov cocktail attacker. Also, Rep. Torres pointed out, a $300 million federal grant to help nonprofits, including synagogues and other houses of worship, boost their security is now available.