The following column originally appeared in the South Bend Tribune

In recent years, the U.S. has witnessed a troubling resurgence of antisemitism, echoing a dark chapter in history the world vowed never to repeat.

The State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report released by the American Jewish Committee, provides a sobering assessment of the challenges facing Jewish communities in Indiana and around the country.

This report is not merely a collection of statistics; it's a clarion call for all Americans to confront this age-old hatred head-on and reaffirm our commitment to combating bigotry in all forms. Indiana legislators recently took heartening steps toward addressing the scourge of antisemitism, when the state House of Representatives passed a bill that defines antisemitism as religious discrimination in the state education code. 

There is no better time for Indiana legislators to have taken this important step as AJC's report highlights a disturbing trend: a significant rise in antisemitic incidents and attitudes, exacerbated by the Hamas terrorist attack of Israel on Oct. 7.

The survey data reveals that 63% of American Jews say the status of Jews in the U.S. is “less secure than a year ago”— a whopping 22-percentage point increase in just one year. Oct. 7 no doubt had an impact. Indeed, 78% of American Jews surveyed said they felt less safe since the attack. 

One of the most alarming findings is the increase in antisemitic incidents targeting young American Jews, especially those in college. One in five current or recent college students said they have felt or been excluded from an event on campus because they are Jewish, a big jump from 12% in 2022. Also, 26% said they avoided expressing their views on Israel out of fear of antisemitism.

The hostility, intimidation and threats that Jewish students have faced on many campuses–especially since the Hamas massacre — has thankfully not been as present in Indiana. At least not yet. We must take concrete steps to protect younger generations from the bane of antisemitism and work even harder to foster a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.

The AJC report also sheds light on the pervasiveness of antisemitism in other spheres of American life, where Jews are effectively playing defense. In the workplace, 15% of American Jews say they avoid wearing or displaying something that would identify them as Jewish because of fears of antisemitism, while 13% said they felt uncomfortable at work because of their Jewish identity.

But where many Jews most often experience antisemitism is only a phone away. Social media platforms are fertile breeding grounds for hate speech and misinformation. Despite efforts to combat online hate, many American Jews still feel unsafe in digital spaces, with 62% in the AJC report saying they saw or heard antisemitism online or on social media in the past 12 months. 

Even more critically, 22% said they felt physically threatened by these incidents. So, how to slow or reverse those numbers? Education plays a key role and we need to start it early. By incorporating Holocaust education and Jewish studies into school curricula, we can foster greater understanding among future generations. 

Mandatory reporting of hate crimes to state and federal databases can also be used to help policymakers and law enforcement agencies track and combat antisemitic incidents. Fostering interfaith and interethnic cooperation is also essential in the fight against antisemitism. 

AJC's report serves as a stark reminder that antisemitism is not a relic of the past but a present-day reality that threatens the safety and security of Jewish communities in Indiana and across the U.S. 

But antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem. It is one we must all solve. For if we cannot protect our Jewish community, our whole democracy is in peril. Only by working together can we create a future where every American, regardless of their background, can live free from fear and discrimination.

Let us seize this moment, building on the good work in the Indiana legislature, to reaffirm our commitment to the values of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all.

Sarah van Loon is the Chicago regional director for American Jewish Committee.