Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel Rallies

(Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis and Spencer Platt, both via Getty Images)

April 2024 Poll: US Jews & Muslims Face Rising Discrimination

Published on 31 May 2024

In addition to the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the ongoing war in Gaza, the United States is also witnessing a rise in religious discrimination against both Muslims and Jews in the West. An April 2024 poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) was part of a three-part series of surveys aimed at assessing the views of Jewish and Muslim Americans (as well as Catholic, Protestant, including white Evangelicals, and those not affiliated with a religious group) on a number of issues related to religious discrimination in the United States.

This poll focused on American Muslims and Jews and how these religious minorities are viewed (both positively and/or negatively) by Democrats and Republicans, men and women, college-educated and non-college-educated people, etc. The methodology for this April 2024 poll included a total of nearly 1,200 surveys of 300+ Muslims, 300+ Jewish people, and 500+ people of other religious affiliations among the general US population.

Even before Israel’s latest war in Gaza, the ISPU researchers had found that both Muslim and Jewish Americans were the “most likely” to say that they faced religious discrimination in their everyday lives. The first key takeaway from theISPU poll was that a majority of both American Muslims and Jews still stated that they continued to face religious discrimination within the past year in some form or another.

The first key takeaway from the April 2024 poll was that nearly 3 out of 4 American Muslims (74%) and two-thirds of Jewish Americans (66%) told the researchers that they experience at least “some frequency” of bias based on their religious identities (compared to a lesser 39% of the general American public). When it comes to both Islamophobia and antisemitism, thepoll found that American Muslims were “twice as likely” as Jewish Americans and the general public (15% to 7.5%) to face religious discrimination within the last calendar year.

To provide some context, a February 2024 USA Today op-ed highlighted that half of Jewish Americans and a strong majority of American Muslims (75%) were both in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza. When broken down by political party and religion, the number of ceasefire supporters increases for both Jewish Democrats (57%) and Muslim Democrats (78%). This is interesting because these two religious minority groups are often pitted against one another politically within Western societies even though they both face religious discrimination and potential violence from white supremacist groups and right-wing Christian nationalists alike. After the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the aforementioned op-ed further noted that both American Muslims (38%) and Jews (27%) both experienced the highest levels of fear of violence from white supremacist groups.

The second major takeaway was that American Muslims were “most likely to experience religious discrimination from peers” in both the workplace and/or school environments than other religious demographic groups. Muslims in America (65%) were significantly more likely to report experiencing religious discrimination either at work or school when interacting with peers (compared with 41% for Jewish Americans and 33% for the general public). The report also found that Jewish Americans (7%) were more likely than the general public (6%) to report some frequency of discrimination from peers, but less frequently than Muslims (13%).

The third takeaway of this poll focused on authority figures and institutional racism faced by Muslim and Jews in America. More than half of Muslims (57%) reported experiencing religious discrimination from authority figures at their place of work or school (compared to 39% of Jewish Americans and 29% of the general public). In terms of frequency, American Muslims were again almost “twice as likely” to report this kind of institutional religious discrimination “occurring regularly” compared to both Jewish and general public members at-large.

Discrimination in public places by strangers was the fourth takeaway . The report found that overwhelming majorities of both Muslims (71%)  and Jews (59%) had reported experiencing religious discrimination from strangers they did not know in public places (whereas only 41% of the general public reported some frequency of religious bias by strangers in public settings). In terms of frequency, the same pattern showed that Muslims (14%) were twice as likely as Jewish Americans (7%) and the general public (6%) to report experiencing discrimination from strangers in public settings.

In the first few weeks of Israel’s war inGaza, NBC News reported that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that it received 774 reports of bias-related incidents from Muslims across the U.S. in the first 16 days of Israel’s war in Gaza alone (a nearly 200% jump from any given 16-day stretch the year before). One incident that was reported was of a young Muslim teenage girl wearing a headscarf in New York was assaulted by a stranger who called her a “terrorist” and pulled on her hijab while she was on the subway to school, according to NBC New York. Even people mistaken for Muslims were attacked when a 19-year-old Indian Sikh teenager was attacked on a New York City bus by an assailant who tried to remove his turban in a suspected hate crime. In a statement, the Sikh Coalitionurged “vigilance for all given the current climate” citing the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian Muslim boy named Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois the same month.

In February 2024, USA Today reported on a separate public opinion poll focused on Jewish Americans which found that 3 in 10 said that they had avoided posting online content identifying themselves as Jewish or revealing their views on Jewish issues, and over one-fourth (26%) of them said that they had refrained from publicly wearing or displaying items identifying them as Jews, or had avoided certain physical spaces or situations out of concern for their personal safety or comfort.

The fifth and final take away from the April 2024 ISPU public opinion poll revolved around the impact of religious discrimination throughout the duration of the college campus protests against Israel’s war in Gaza. This report found that Muslim students in higher education or a trade/vocational program are especially impacted by religious discrimination. Although the poll results showed that Muslims are “more likely than Jewish Americans or the general public to experience religious discrimination ‘regularly’, whether in public places from strangers or at work/school from both peers or people in power” that bias, however, is not felt equally among Muslims. 

For instance, the poll results showed that an overwhelming majority of Muslim students in higher education or in a trade/vocational program (84%) said that they experienced religious discrimination (compared to 66% of non-students). Furthermore, the results also showed that Muslim students (80%) were more likely than non-students (56%) to report experiencing religious bias from peers at school or work. Finally, it was found that Muslims students (68%) were also more likely than Muslims who are not students (50%) to report facing discrimination for their religion by people in authority at school or work.   

In summary, there is no doubt that both Islamophobia and antisemitism are rising across the globe. Israel’s ongoing bombardment in Gaza has resulted in over 36,000 dead Palestinians. It has also led to  residual repercussions for millions of religious minorities on college campuses, workplaces and within the public arena in other parts of the world. This April 2024 ISPU public opinion poll demonstrates  that anti-Muslim bias within several institutional settings in the West continues to rise and should be considered to be a serious societal issue moving into the future.