March 2018 -- Adar-Nisan 5778,  Volume 24, Issue 3

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ADL Releases Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, ADL found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 57 percent in 2017,   the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.


ADL identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated throughout the United States in 2017. This is an increase of 57% over the 1,267 incidents reported in 2016. For the first time since at least 2010, an incident occurred in every US state. The states with the highest numbers of incidents were New York (380 incidents and 18 in Westchester County}), California (268 incidents), New Jersey (208 incidents), Massachusetts (177), Florida (98), and Pennsylvania (96). These states combined made up more than half (62%) of the total number of incidents. The number of incidents tends to correlate with large Jewish populations.


On the release of the report, Congresswoman Nita Lowey {D-NY 17/ Rockland-Westchester}, Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism stated,  “This surge in anti-Semitic incidents is deplorable and unacceptable, and must be rooted out of our society, along with all other forms of bigotry, xenophobia and hate. Anti-Semitic vandalism, threats, and violence do not reflect the values of the vast majority of New Yorkers, who must stand together and speak out to uphold tolerance and acceptance, and to reverse this trend of harassment and intimidation.”


The 1,986 total incidents can be subdivided into three major categories: (1) of harassment (where a Jewish person or group of people feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of someone else); (2)vandalism (where property is damaged in a manner that indicates the presence of anti-Semitic animus or in a manner that victimizes Jews for their religious affiliation), and (3) assault (where people’s bodies are targeted with violence accompanied by expressions of anti-Semitic animus).


 The largest increase in 2017 was in the category of vandalism. With 952 incidents recorded, this is an 86% increase over the 510 incidents in 2016. The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts of vandalism is particularly concerning, because it indicates that the perpetrators feel emboldened enough to break the law.


In 2017, there were 1,015 instances of harassment, an increase of 41% over the 721 incidents reported in 2016. One hundred sixty-three of the harassment cases were part of the spree of bomb threats made against Jewish institutions in the first quarter of 2017. If those bomb threats were not included in the total number of harassment cases, the total would be 852, an increase of 18% over the 2016 figure.


Thankfully, the number of assaults with perceived anti-Semitic animus decreased to 19 in 2017; a decrease of 47% compared to the 36 assaults in 2016.


Anti-Semitic incidents took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions, schools, and colleges/universities. Although the largest number of incidents typically occur in public areas, in 2017 K-12 schools surpassed public areas as the locations with the most anti-Semitic incidents, at 457 incidents being reported in K-12 schools and 455 in public areas. For public areas, this amounted to an increase of 56% over the 294 incidents in that location type in 2016. For K-12 schools, this is a dramatic increase of 94% over the 235 incidents in 2016. Anti-Semitic incidents on college and university campuses also increased in 2017 to a total of 204, an 89% increase over the 108 incidents in 2016.


Jewish institutions, including Jewish schools, community centers, and museums as well as synagogues, were the targets of 342 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This is an increase of 101% over the 170 incidents recorded in 2016. However, this number includes 163 bomb threats made in the first quarter of the year; the vast majority of which were alleged to have been perpetrated by a troubled Jewish teenager located in Israel. Excluding those bomb threats, the total number of incidents targeting Jewish institutions is 179, an increase of 5% over the 170 incidents targeting those places in 2016.


The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is composed of criminal and non-criminal incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault against individuals and groups as reported to ADL by victims, law enforcement, and the media. It is not a public opinion poll or an effort to catalog every expression of anti-Semitism on the Internet.