Survey: Anti-Semitic incidents in US surged nearly 60% in 2017

The year 2017 witnessed the largest single-year increase on record in anti-Semitic incidents in the US, an ADL report shows.

By: World Israel News Staff

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US surged significantly in 2017 compared to 2016, according to new data released on Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In its latest “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,” the ADL said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incidents in 1979.

The ADL said the sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

A total of 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents was reported by the ADL across the US in 2017, including physical assaults, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions.

This figure represents a 57 percent increase over the 1,267 incidents in 2016.

Every part of the country was affected, with an incident reported in all 50 states for the first time in at least a decade, the ADL noted.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director.

The desecration of Jewish headstones is a classic anti-Semitic act employed for hundreds of years.

“These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society. In reflecting on this time and understanding it better with this new data, we feel even more committed to our century-old mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” he added.

In 2017, according to ADL, there were 1,015 incidents of harassment, including 163 bomb threats against Jewish institutions, up 41 percent from 2016. However, most of the threats were made as a hoax by a mentally ill 18-year-old American-Israeli.

There were 952 incidents of vandalism, up 86 percent from 2016, and 19 physical assaults, down 47 percent from 2016.

The largest increase in 2017 was in the category of vandalism.

“The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts of vandalism is particularly concerning because it indicates perpetrators feel emboldened enough to break the law,” the ADL said in the report.

In the vast majority of vandalism cases the perpetrators remain unidentified.

Incidents took place in every state across the country, but consistent with prior reports, the states with the highest number of incidents tend to be those with the largest Jewish populations. These include New York with 380 incidents, California with 268; New Jersey with 208, Massachusetts with 177, Florida with 98 and Pennsylvania with 96.

What is causing the spike?

According to the audit, there are myriad reasons why the numbers are rising. The report does not point to any main reason.

These include the fact that more people are reporting incidents to ADL than ever before.

Anti-Semitic incidents took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions and schools and colleges/universities.

Anti-Semitism continues to be a serious concern on college campuses and in public, private and parochial grade schools, the ADL underscored, as anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 schools and college campuses in 2017 nearly doubled over 2016.

There were 457 anti-Semitic incidents reported in non-Jewish schools, up from 235 in 2016 and 114 in 2015. Jewish institutions and schools also saw incidents double, jumping from 170 in 2016 to 342 last year. Meanwhile, college campuses saw a total of 204 incidents in 2017, compared to 108 in 2016.

“The consistent increase of anti-Semitic incidents against students of all ages is deeply troubling,” Greenblatt said. “We know that students do not always report when they are being bullied, so for every incident that’s reported, it is likely there’s another that goes unreported.”