Anti-Semitic incidents surge in United States, ADL says

US watchdog says white supremacists, Israeli youth who made hundreds of bomb threats, behind rise in anti-Semitic incidents.


Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-Semitism

JTA - Anti-Semitic incidents in the first nine months of 2017 have risen 67 percent since the same period last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which factored in a string of bomb threats largely attributed to a Jewish man in Israel. If the current pace holds, they will nearly double the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2015.

There was also a 92 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in New York City — 171 this year compared to 89 last year.

Anti-Semitic assaults, however, have fallen sharply since last year. There were 29 assaults in the first nine months of 2016, versus 12 over the same period this year — a decrease of some 60 percent.

Thursday’s report by the ADL, which fights anti-Semitism and bigotry, said that in addition to the waves of bomb threats against Jewish institutions at the beginning of the year, the main driver of anti-Semitic incidents was the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

Most of the 162 total bomb threats are suspected of coming from an American-Israeli Jewish man living in Ashdod, Israel. Even discounting the bomb threats, there was still a 46 percent increase in incidents. The seven weeks following the Charlotesville rally saw 221 incidents of anti-Semitism.

“We are astonished and horrified by the rise in anti-Semitic harassment, incidents and violence targeting our communities,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and national director. “While the tragedy in Charlottesville highlighted this trend, it was not an aberration. Every single day, white supremacists target members of the Jewish community—holding rallies in public, recruiting on college campuses, attacking journalists on social media, and even targeting young children.”

Following the arrest of the Jewish bombing hoax suspect in March, Greenblatt explained why the ADL would continue to include the threats — which forced the evacuations of Jewish community centers, synagogues, Jewish pre-schools and the ADL itself — in its tally of anti-Semitism.

“While the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear: These were acts of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said in a statement at the time. “These threats targeted Jewish institutions, were calculated to sow fear and anxiety and put the entire Jewish community on high alert.”

There were 1,299 incidents of anti-Semitism between January 1 and September 30, 2017, according to the report. In all of 2016, there were 1,266 — and that was itself a 34 percent increase over 2015. If the 2017 pace continues, this year will see 1,732 anti-Semitic incidents, close to double the 942 incidents two years ago.

Most of the incidents — including the bomb threats — fell into the category of harassment, while there were more than 500 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism and 12 incidents of physical assault. There were 269 incidents in elementary, middle and high schools, more than double the 2016 figure. Incidents on college campuses also increased nearly 60 percent since last year.

States with high Jewish populations saw the most incidents, including New York, California, Massachusetts and Florida. New York State has seen 267 incidents up to September 30, more than the 199 reported all of last year. Most of the incidents were acts of vandalism.

ADL cancelled a Thursday news conference about the report, citing Tuesday’s terror attack in lower Manhattan in which eight people were killed.