Rising Numbers of Americans Say Jews, Muslims Face a Lot of Discrimination

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Most U.S. adults think speech related to Israeli and Palestinian statehood should be allowed, but not calls for violence

Pro-Palestinian New York University students call for a cease-fire in Gaza on Nov. 16, 2023. A man holds up an Israeli flag at another pro-Palestinian rally, at Columbia University in New York City, on Oct. 12, 2023. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis and Spencer Platt, both via Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this survey to explore the U.S. public’s views on discrimination and free speech in the context of the Israel-Hamas war. We surveyed a total of 12,693 U.S. adults from Feb. 13 to 25, 2024. Most of the respondents (10,642) are members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, an online survey panel recruited through national random sampling of residential addresses, which gives nearly all U.S. adults a chance of selection.

The remaining 2,051 respondents are members of three other survey panels – Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, SSRS’s Opinion Panel, and NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak Panel – who were interviewed because they identify as Jewish or Muslim.

We “oversampled” (i.e., interviewed a disproportionately large number of) Jews and Muslims to provide more reliable estimates of their views on the topics covered in this survey. But these groups are not overrepresented in the national estimates reported here, because we adjusted for the oversampling in the weighting of the data. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, religious affiliation and other categories. In total, 1,941 Jewish and 414 Muslim respondents participated in this survey.

While the sample design was identical for Jews and Muslims, the resulting sample sizes are different. There are two main reasons for this. The Jewish population in the United States is roughly double the size of the Muslim population. Consequently, national survey panels have roughly twice as many or more Jewish panelists as Muslim ones. In addition, decades of research on survey nonresponse has shown that some groups in the U.S. are more likely to participate in surveys than others. Generally speaking, Jewish adults are more likely to participate in surveys than Muslim adults.

The survey also included questions about where people were born and whether people identify as Arab or of Arab origin. Because of insufficient sample size, we are unable to analyze Arab Americans or Americans of Israeli or Palestinian descent separately.

In this survey, Jews and Muslims are defined as U.S. adults who answer a question about their current religion by saying they are Jewish or Muslim, respectively. Unlike our 2020 report on Jews in America, this report does not separately analyze the views of “Jews of no religion” (i.e., people who identify as Jewish culturally, ethnically or by family background but not by religion).

For more information on how we conducted this survey, refer to the ATP’s Methodology and the Methodology for this report. Read the questions used in this report, along with responses.

Chart shows the share of Americans who say Jews face a lot of discrimination has doubled since 2021

The share of U.S. adults who say there is a lot of discrimination against Jews in our society has doubled in the last three years, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, jumping from 20% in 2021 to 40% today. A somewhat larger share – 44% – say Muslims face a lot of discrimination, up 5 percentage points since 2021.

Many Americans particularly sense that discrimination against Muslims and Jews has risen since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. The vast majority of U.S. Muslims and Jews themselves agree: Seven-in-ten Muslims and nine-in-ten Jews surveyed say they have felt an increase in discrimination against their respective groups since the war began in October.

The survey, conducted Feb. 13-25 among a nationally representative sample of 12,693 U.S. adults that includes an oversample of American Jews and Muslims, also probed the public’s views on the limits of free speech related to the war.

It finds that Americans are broadly comfortable with speech both for and against Israeli and Palestinian statehood. But most U.S. adults are not OK with calls for violence against Jews or Muslims.

Jewish and Muslim respondents in this survey