ADL: What is New Jersey doing to fight the spike in anti-Semitism?

According to ADL’s most recent audit, there were a total of 345 anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey – the highest number ever recorded in the state.

By World Israel News Staff

Following the release of the Anti-Defamation League’s 2019 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in May, which found a 73 percent spike in cases in New Jersey, the ADL has filed open records requests for information on how various towns are responding.

The towns in which requests were filed are Jackson, Toms River, Howell, and Brick.

According to ADL’s most recent audit, there were a total of 345 anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey in 2019 – the highest number ever recorded in the state and the second-highest number recorded anywhere in the country last year.

In addition to the incidents of vandalism, assault and harassment documented in ADL’s audit, there has been rising anti-Semitism online targeting the Orthodox and Haredi communities in Ocean County (the county that saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents anywhere in the state last year).

Prior to being removed from Facebook earlier this year, a Facebook group called “Rise Up Ocean County” hosted comments promoting violence against the Orthodox Jewish community, such as, “We need to get rid of them like Hitler did,” and, “When they resist, bulldoze them.”

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More recently, in the wake of Covid-19, social media posts brought to ADL’s attention have ranged from blaming the Orthodox Jewish community for the spread of the virus to referring to the community as an “inbred cult” that believes it is “above the law.”

There have also been threats of assault. In March, a New Jersey man was arrested for threatening to attack Orthodox Jews in Lakewood with a baseball bat.

Local elected officials and community leaders have also used blatantly anti-Semitic language when speaking about the Jewish community in relation to COVID-19, ADL reports.

The Ocean County fire marshal called Lakewood’s Orthodox Jews “trash,” “dirty ones,” and “filth,” and wrote on social media that Lakewood should be turned into a “hole in the ground.”

Similarly, former Jackson Township Council president Barry Calogero suggested that people in Jackson were “hiding behind their culture and religious beliefs” to put others at risk, and calling for the National Guard to be deployed to Lakewood.

“Last year, anti-Semitic incidents reached unprecedented levels in New Jersey. Now, in the wake of COVID-19, things only seem to be getting worse. We hope that the responses we receive to our OPRA filings will shed light on how our local elected officials are grappling with and responding to this scourge, and the policy decisions they are making as a result,” said Etzion Neuer, Interim Regional Director of ADL’s New York / New Jersey Office.

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“At a time when strong moral leadership is imperative, it is incumbent upon our elected officials to use their platforms to stomp out hatred and anti-Semitism, whenever and wherever it may arise,” he said.