Anti-Semitism (illustration)
Anti-Semitism (illustration) Reuters

The total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by 21 percent in 2014, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued Monday.

The audit counted a total of 912 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. during the 2014 calendar year. This represents a 21 percent increase from the 751 incidents reported during the same period in 2013, and is the first time in nearly a decade of declines where the overall number of incidents has substantially risen.

 “While the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents remains lower than we have seen historically, the fact remains that 2014 was a particularly violent year for Jews both overseas and in the United States,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

“The fatal shootings in Overland Park, Kansas at a Jewish community center building and senior residence by a white supremacist whose goal was to ‘kill Jews’ and other violent episodes were tragic reminders that lethal anti-Semitism continues to pose a threat to American Jews and larger society as well,” he added.

Despite the increase in incidents, the total number of anti-Semitic acts still represents one of the lowest totals of anti-Semitic acts reported by ADL since it started keeping records in 1979, the audit found. 

Still, the audit also identified new trends in anti-Semitic incidents, including the phenomenon of hacking attacks on community and synagogue websites by overseas hackers, which multiplied in 2014.

The 2014 calendar year was marked by several violent episodes – most notably, the shooting attack at two Jewish institutional buildings in Overland Park, Kansas carried out by a white supremacist who admitted in a jailhouse interview that he wanted to target and kill Jews.

It was the first time a Jewish institution has been singled out by a lone-wolf-style gunman since the 2009 shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The ADL Audit cited a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents during the 50 days of conflict between Hamas and Israel beginning with air raids on July 7 and into the subsequent ground invasion in Gaza to root out Hamas rockets and tunnels.

Anti-Semitism manifested on the fringe of anti-Israel movements during and after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge as Jewish individuals and institutions became the targets of anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts of vandalism, said the ADL.

The annual ADL Audit encompasses incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment targeting Jews and Jewish property and institutions and includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents reported to ADL’s 27 regional offices across the country and to law enforcement.

In 2014, anti-Semitic incidents were reported in a total of 38 states and the District of Columbia.  Those incidents are categorized in the ADL Audit as follows:

  • Assaults: 36 incidents in 2014, compared with 31 in 2013
  • Vandalism: 363 incidents in 2014, compared with 315 in 2013
  • Harassment, threats and events: 513 incidents in 2014, compared with 405 in 2013.

“The reported increase in U.S. anti-Semitic incidents coincided with a huge upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and elsewhere around the globe,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair.

“A number of Jewish communities, including those in France, Great Britain and Austria reported a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents over the previous year due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. While the Jewish community here did not experience anything like the attacks overseas, the Gaza war did have an impact in terms of creating a momentary spike in incidents in the U.S.,” he added.

Continuing a trend over many years, the states with the highest totals of anti-Semitic incidents were those with large Jewish populations, the ADL audit found.

  • New York State, with 231 incidents in 2014, up from 203 in 2013;
  • California, with 184 incidents, up from 143;
  • New Jersey, with 107 incidents, up from 78;
  • Florida, with 70 incidents, up from 68;
  • Pennsylvania, with 48 incidents, up from 43
  • Massachusetts, with 47 incidents, up from 46.
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