ADL: 86% spike in US anti-Semitic incidents in 2017

Anti-Semitic incidents in the US surged by more than one-third in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, a new ADL audit shows.

Anti-Semitic incidents in the US surged by more than one-third in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to new data published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Sunday, ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, ADL reports that there has been a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational grade schools.

In 2016, there was a 34 percent year-over-year increase in incidents of assaults, vandalism, and harassment, with a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions.

Nearly 30 percent of these incidents, 369 in total, occurred in November and December. The surge has continued during the first three months of 2017, with preliminary reports of another 541 incidents, putting this year on pace for more than 2,000 incidents.

“There’s been a significant, sustained increase in anti-Semitic activity since the start of 2016, and what’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “Clearly, we have work to do and need to bring more urgency to the fight. At ADL, we will use every resource available to put a stop to anti-Semitism. But we also need more leaders to speak out against this cancer of hate and more action at all levels to counter anti-Semitism.”

In the first quarter of 2017, preliminary reports of the 541 anti-Semitic incidents included 380 harassment cases as well as 161 bomb threats (which were mostly committed by an Israeli-American Jew), an increase of 127 percent over the same quarter in 2016;

Additionally, 155 vandalism incidents, including three cemetery desecrations, brought an increase of 36 percent in that category.

On a positive note, there was a total of six physical assault incidents, a decrease of 40 percent.

In 2016, the 1,266 anti-Semitic incidents included 720 cases of harassment and threats, an increase of 41 percent over 2015; 510 vandalism incidents, an increase of 35 percent, and 36 physical assault incidents, a decrease of 35 percent.

Spike Around Elections

The incidents were felt across the country, but the states with the highest number of incidents tend to be those with large Jewish populations.

California led with 211 in 2016 and 87 in the first quarter of 2017, New York followed with 199 in 2016 and 97 in Q1 of 2017, New Jersey with 157 in 2016 and 24 in Q1 of 2017, Florida with 137 in 2016 and 41 in Q1 of 2017, and Massachusetts with 125 and 38 at the beginning of 2017.

The ADL attributes the increase in anti-Semitism to the 2016 US presidential campaign and the heightened political atmosphere. There were 34 incidents linked to the election.

For example, in Denver, graffiti posted in May 2016, said “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” In November, a St. Petersburg, Fla., man was accosted by someone who told him “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.”

106% Increase in Grade School Anti-Semitism

Incidents on college campuses remained mostly flat, but anti-Semitic incidents at non-Jewish elementary, middle, and high schools increased 106 percent, from 114 in 2015 to 235 in 2016. This increase accelerated in the beginning of 2017, when 95 incidents were reported.

“Schools are a microcosm of the country,” Greenblatt said. “Children absorb messages from their parents and the media, and bring them into their schools and playgrounds. We are very concerned the next generation is internalizing messages of intolerance and bigotry.”

“These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism.

“Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community on and off line,” he explained.

The World Jewish Congress found that an anti-Semitic message was posted every 83 seconds in the world at large in 2016, mostly on Twitter.

Incidents recorded in the report included network printer hacks and the use of source-masking technology to make it easier to harass Jews anonymously.

“The majority of anti-Semitic incidents are not carried out by organized extremists, as the bomb threats in 2017 demonstrate. Anti-Semitism is not the sole domain of any one group, and needs to be challenged wherever and whenever it arises,” Segal added.

Anti-Israel Harassment on Campus

The General Analysis on Anti-Semitism Worldwide 2016 report, published on Sunday jointly by Tel-Aviv University, Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and the European Jewish Congress, shows a a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents on US university campuses, mostly insults and harassment of Jewish students. These attacks, not included in the ADL audit, were usually connected to increased anti-Israel activities by pro-Palestinian groups on campus and have been ongoing for a decade, well before Trump’s election.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News