Anti-semitism surges in Pennsylvania during COVID

Pennsylvania, home to American’s fifth largest Jewish community, has seen anti-Semitic incidents spike during the pandemic.

Dan Verbin ,

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
iStock

In March 2020, in the early days of COVID-19, graffiti discovered in Philadelphia, where 194,200 out of the state’s 434,165 Jews live, included swastikas and the “1488” symbol, which according to the ADL is a combination of a 14-word white supremacist slogan and 88 which stands for “Heil Hitler.”

The majority of the incidents have occurred in the city and surrounding suburbs.

Last year, 330 incidents were recorded in Pennsylvania by the ADL – a record high since the organization began tracking hate in the state five years ago.

Anti-semitic incidents included students in Allentown drawing swastikas on folders in a Jewish teacher’s classroom, a coach of a children’s hockey team calling 10-year old Jewish players “dirty Jews” in a handshake line, rabbis receiving threats from Holocaust deniers, and a man confronted at an Elkins Park pharmacy who was told “You and your Jews in New York are causing (COVID).”

The ADL’s report is in keeping with other findings compiled by the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, and anecdotal evidence found in social media posts, according to USA Today.

During the pandemic, hate has only increased, with anti-Semitism surging in the U.S., according to the ADL, which cites 5,125 hate incidents, the highest level it has observed since it began keeping a tally. The number is double that of 2019.

“The pandemic… may have provided these extremists with additional encouragement,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

One of the major reasons given for the uptick in hate incidents in the state is that it has no hate speech laws.

On October 27, 2018, a deadly shooting took place at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, in which 11 people were killed and six injured. In the aftermath, eight bills were introduced in the House and Senate to improve the state’s hate crime code.



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