Majority of US Religious Hate Crimes Target Jews

Majority of US Religious Hate Crimes Target Jews people attend rally against anti semitism People attend a rally denouncing anti-Semitic violence on May 27, 2021, in Cedarhurst, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

By Peter Malbin | Tuesday, 31 August 2021 11:07 AM

A majority of religiously motivated hate crimes in America, 58%, were targeted toward Jewish people, newly released FBI statistics for 2020 show. Jews make up 2% of the population of the U.S.

The data showed there were more hate crimes directed at Jews than at Hispanics, Muslims, and Asians, reported the Jerusalem Post.

But there were more anti-Black, anti-white, and anti-LGBTQ hate crimes than anti-Jewish ones.

In total, the FBI received information of 7,759 hate crimes committed in 2020, submitted by over 15,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.

Of those, 4,939 attacks were motivated by race or ethnicity, 1,174 by religion, and 1,051 by sexual orientation, with the remainder based on hatred for disability, gender, gender identity, and multiple biases.

Anti-Semitic attacks are sometimes influenced by anti-Israeli political sentiment, often espoused by political figures and groups, both left- and right-wing. Attacks are also spurred by hate speech on social media, the BBC reported.

Of the religiously motivated hate crimes, fully 676 were committed against Jews, some 58% of all such attacks.

Although still high, the 2020 numbers for religiously motivated hate crimes are slightly lower than those of 2019, when anti-Jewish attacks constituted 63% of all religiously motivated hate crimes and 13% of all hate crimes nationwide.

Overall, hate crimes in the U.S. rose about 6% last year, fueled by an increase in anti-Asian, anti-Black and anti-white incidents, reaching levels not seen in more than a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the American Psychological Association, a hate crime is a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity."

Hate crimes are an extreme form of prejudice, made more likely in the context of social and political change. "Offenders may be motivated by fear, ignorance, or anger and may feel that their livelihood or way of life is threatened by demographic changes."