Culture

Anti-Semitism in US spikes after nearly a decade of decline

Clergy, students and other members of the community gathered during an interfaith "Service of Unity & Hope" to remember three shooting victims on Thursday (April 17) at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow
Clergy, students and other members of the community gathered during an interfaith "Service of Unity & Hope" to remember three shooting victims on Thursday (April 17) at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan.  Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Clergy, students and other members of the community gathered during an interfaith “Service of Unity & Hope” to remember three shooting victims on April 17, 2014, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

WASHINGTON (RNS) Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. spiked 21 percent last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, unsettling many American Jews who had thought that hatred of Jews and Judaism was on the decline, at least here at home.

The ADL has released a spring report that, for nearly the past 10 years, showed fewer incidents targeting American Jews. That downward trend contrasted sharply to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe — recently witnessed in the January killings of four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

“The United States still continues to be unique in history” as a safe place for Jews, said Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director.

But this new ADL report casts a shadow on the idea that the U.S., which is home to about 40 percent of the world’s Jews, stands in stark contrast to European anti-Semitism and far higher levels of antipathy against Jews in the Middle East, as reflected in studies of anti-Semitic attitudes worldwide.

“It’s still different here than anywhere else, but don’t take anything for granted, and be concerned,” Foxman said.

The ADL counted 912 incidents in 2014, up from 751 the previous year.

RNS Anti-Semitism graphic by Tiffany McCallen. Click to view full size.

RNS Anti-Semitism graphic by Tiffany McCallen. Click to view full size.

The report includes assaults, vandalism and harassment targeting Jews, Jewish property and institutions that were reported to ADL’s 27 regional offices and to law enforcement. It shows 36 assaults, up from 31 in 2013; 363 incidents of vandalism in 2014, compared with 315 in 2013; and 513 incidents of threats and harassment in 2014, contrasted with 405 in 2013.

Though the report does not consider anti-Zionist or anti-Israel expressions (unless they cross the line into anti-Semitism), ADL researchers nonetheless correlate the rise in anti-Semitism to last summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. During the war, for example, a vandal in Malibu, Calif., painted “Jews=Killers” and “Jews are Killing Inno­cent Chil­dren” near the entrance to a Jew­ish sum­mer camp last July. Another vandal spray-painted “Free Palestine” and “God Bless Gaza” in red on a synagogue in Lowell, Mass.

Those were among the 139 anti-Semitic incidents reported in July 2014, more than double the 51 reported incidents for the same month a year earlier.

The ADL also called 2014 a particularly violent year that included the fatal shootings at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan.

READ: White supremacist, charged with killing three at a Jewish center, heads to court

Separately from ADL, Moment magazine editor Nadine Epstein launched a campaign this week to combat anti-Semitism by encouraging more Jews to invite non-Jews to their Passover seders, or ritual meals, where the story of the ancient Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt is retold.

President Barack Obama and the first family mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder with friends and staff in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, March 29, 2010.  Photo courtesy of Pete Souza/The White House.

President Barack Obama and the first family mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder with friends and staff in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House on March 29, 2010. Photo courtesy of Pete Souza/the White House

The idea sparked some controversy among some traditional Jews because a strict interpretation of Jewish law actually forbids non-Jews at seders, which will be held on Friday and Saturday this year (April 3 and 4). The prohibition, which is rarely observed or even known by many Jews, stems from a rabbinic opinion that Jews should not cook for those who do not observe the laws of the holiday.

“If every family does this, some six million non-Jews will experience a Seder this year, and at the very least taste traditional Passover foods and learn of their significance — not to mention gain an invaluable window into Jewish life and values, and a better understanding of the connection Jews feel to the land of Israel,” she wrote in the New York Post.

KRE/MG END MARKOE

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

29 Comments

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  • Hi “Steve” (you’re not fooling anyone). I’ve explained to you more times than I can count, as any rabbi could, that Torah comes from Hebrew for teaching. I’ve also pointed out that there was no Egyptian deity called “Taurowet” as you claimed. Taweret is the correct name. You switched the consonants and phonics to make it seem closer to Torah. You’re a fraud. Not only that, you’re a coward because you refuse to respond when I point out your errors.
    No one should take you seriously.

  • In case anyone’s confused, I was responding to a longtime screed-writing rabidly anti-Jewish RNS commenter who thinks he’ll be delete-proof by changing his name.

  • Garson,

    I did not read what “Steve” wrote … but it I must ask …
    how does this differ from what Atheist Max writes about people who believe in God/Spirit and who believe CHRIST AS WITHIN? Or Jesus as within? Or Spirit as within? Is there any difference in Atheist Max’s anti-believer, racist, slanderous hate-spewing and what Steve wrote?

    Can you or someone here at RNS explain the difference?

    Thx

  • Opheliart, the difference is that Atheist Max hates ALL religions equally. This particular person only hates Jews and Judaism along with some Christians that he thinks have adopted Jewish ideas.

  • Clearly, Susan, you have not read Atheist Max’s rants, but I find it interesting that you, and those on RNS do not see it. My point has always been that he must understand the difference between a believer and Religion! God is not Religion. I AM NOT OF RELIGION, and yet, he has slandered me and other believers in Spirit. He twists our words to suit HIS agenda, and he is racist, bigoted and what? IGNORANT. Maybe you identify yourself through religious practices and titles—a brand—WE DO NOT. The Christ to us is not a religion. I am not a Christian. I do not adhere to Christianity as my religion, as this is full of doctrine I cannot align with. I do not have a religion. I am gnostic. Just as I hear wisdom in words of the poet, or see the wealth of Spirit in the paint of the artist, even the gift of what a surgeon can do to lessen birth defects of the unborn child while still in the womb (actual surgery performed!) … the Words of the PROPHET are as Wisdom. READ his comments.

  • Atheist Max March 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm (in a comment to me).
    My love of children is superior to whatever nonsense you are selling.
    I must speak up in their defense.

    Religious genital mutilation – an entirely faith-based depravity – is a disgrace to humanity and an ongoing assault on their helpless little bodies! Girls and boys grow up entirely disfigured and emotionally injured by these depraved practices and you obviously don’t care about that at all.

    Shame on Christianity and Jesus in particular for these multiple depravities and this profound indifference to human suffering.

    **********
    First, does Jesus ever say to circumcise?

    -“boys grow up entirely disfigured and emotionally injured by these depraved practices and you obviously don’t care about that at all.”

    Are your husbands and boys emotionally injured? He is trying to destroy reputations. He says to me, “you obviously do not care.” How would he know my feelings about any of this? He a manipulating fraud.

  • You seem like a decent person, but many people who are “spiritual but not religious” annoy me with there sense of moral and spiritual superiority to the poor dupes who follow a religion.

    It seems to me that you are a Christian, and that you are playing with words.

  • Susan,

    You seem like a decent person, but many people who are “spiritual but not religious” annoy me with there sense of moral and spiritual superiority to the poor dupes who follow a religion.

    It seems to me that you are a Christian, and that you are playing with words.
    *****************
    You see, you assume I hate religion, and you have made judgement calls. You are annoyed with the wrong person. I don’t hate religion. RELIGION PROVIDES STRUCTURE BUT SHOULD NEVER EXCEED LOVE. Where were you when WE posted this on RNS several times?
    It’s obvious you have never seen my color before. When many whites saw the dark-skinned for the first time … what did they think? believe?

    If you are fine with Max telling the world that your husbands and sons are “entirely disfigured and emotionally injured by these depraved practices and you obviously don’t care about that at all.” … then lay down and play dead, but I will not stand with him slandering me and my kind.

  • In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.

    Susan, what does this say to you? WORD to us is different from how Atheist Max thinks. Don’t play games with our words because you don’t understand them. Just be honest and say you don’t know me.

    Peace

  • You haven’t been posting on this web site for very long. I have had long exchanges with Atheist Max where is completely disagreed with him. I completely disagree that religion is a bad influence. I have said that I have seen religion be a good influence and create better people. I also meditate so I am aware of other paths of spiritual experience. I also know a great deal about Kabbalah. Look up Isaac Luria.

    My comments were not directed at you personally. That’s why I said that I
    thought you were a decent person. I was talking about people generally, not you specifically.

    Christians in general assume “the word” was Jesus. I don’t know if you agree with that or not.

  • Thank you for your response, Susan.

    Jesus said, “If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, ‘Move from here,’ and it will move.” Gospel of Thomas

    The Roman Catholic Church and Christianity for the most part do not accept Gnostic Literature. As Greg (on RNS) has put it: that is the Gnostic Heresy Brand. What he does not understand is that I am of the East and have no illusions about dogmatic substance. We discern in Symbol. Atheist Max does not understand our language and is incorrect in his diatribe about us.

  • Ophelia, I do not get into arguments about people’s beliefs. I come to comment on more or less objectively defined issues where I know something about the matter being discussed — Judaism, and religious legal issues. Thus, for example, when people write “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life,” or “religion is evil,” I disagree but don’t get involved. But if they write that Isaiah predicted the messiah would be born of a virgin, or that a church can’t fire someone for being gay, I do.
    I strongly disagree with Atheist Max but in general his statements are too broad for me to step in and argue. For the most part he attacks religion, not religious people. Stephen “Steve” Lewis’s esoteric, anti-Jewish beliefs are of no moment, but when he says that Israel is a portmanteau of Isis, Ra and El, I zealously step up in defense.

  • Rising anti-Semitism in US is worrying. However, ADL calls spray-painted words regarding “Free Palestine” and “God Bless Gaza” anti-Semitic? A far stretch, I think. More likely, anti-Zionist or anti-Israel, but hardly anti-Semitic. Even for a hard-core one-stater to see.

  • First, it is “I am” the way, the truth … which has an understanding most Christians do not express. They are not ready for this symbolic place of renewal. When they are able to move from the North quell then this will become more clear (all having to do with Peter’s vision of the sheet found in Acts). Virgin in gnosis is not the “virgin” of Traditional Christian Theology. One having born seven can be virgin. Virgin is the place of rebirth. It is an ongoing restive place of evolving in accord with Prophesy (active). God shows no partiality.

    As I said, I did not read Steve’s comments, but Atheist Max has accused me of things I have not done—am not doing—just because I am a believer in Spirit. He has painted me evil without knowing me—my belief. How is this different from Steve’s comments? How is this not racist, not bigoted? Born from ignorance.

  • Anti-semitism … anti-gnostic … anti-believer? Anger and hatred for specific religious doctrine is one thing, or how sects/institutions have used words—ANY WORDS. Slanderous hate speech and degrading, demeaning, LYING words about one who believes is what? I find it difficult that you and RNS editors/authors cannot see this.

    From Wiki:
    In studies of linguistics and ethnology, the term Semitic (from the Biblical “Shem”, Hebrew: שם‎) was first used to refer to a family of LANGUAGES native to West Asia (the Middle East). The languages evolved and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Malta, and are now referred to cumulatively as the Semitic LANGUAGES.

  • The vandalism qualifies as anti-Semitic because the vandal defaced a synagogue. A Jewish institution — thousands of miles from the war — was attacked because it is Jewish. The vandal didn’t bother ask the people praying inside their opinions on whether Palestinians deserved a state. He just needed to know they were Jewish. Therefore, to him, they deserved to have their spiritual home defaced. That seems to me an anti-Semitic act.

  • I’m not here to defend Atheist Max. He is well capable of defending himself and I’ll let him do that.

  • If A.M. never had brown rice, had never even seen it, and I brought brown rice to the table, and he is fearful because he does not want to learn what it is … but accuses me by saying my rice is evil, or my rice murders, or will cause death … that everything I share regarding my rice has caused all the ills of Society … how is this not of a delusional mind?

    It really is much like the white-skinned seeing the dark-skinned for the first time and behaving how? We both have a similar figure and features, only the color is different … and what … the language?

  • “Well capable” … not well, and capable by abusing and twisting the words of others to suit his own agenda.

  • Thank you, Lauren. I was going to say the same thing. There is a vast difference between vandalazing a Jewish institution and expressing your opinion.

  • Lauren Markoe, I thank you for your article and for getting points back on the subject. In reading the first few replies, I thought the subject was on A. Max.

    I understand that “name calling” anti Jewish comments are not counted in the ADL chart. Nor do I think it should be at this stage. Mark Silk, in his RNS blog, wrote about antisemitic remarks on campus have worsen. I don’t know whether to just ask, “Well taking into consideration all the name calling going on in elementary through college, are we to be alarmed? We live in a day in which slurs are directed at Jews, Christians, Muslims, guys and just ordinary people someone has thought up a name to call them.

    I am for a Palestinian State, I am also for Israel. Does that make me antisemitic?

  • No, that doesn’t make you antisemitic, but are you saying that you think Jews are “crying” antisemitism to stop criticism of Israel? That is antisemitic. That is what MarkE was doing.

    Antisemitism often starts small and grows. That is why we have to be aware of it and try to stop it at the level of slurs, because historically that is always how it starts.

  • I am shocked at the reports of a rise in anti Semitism in the West. From what does this spring? The Jews cause almost zero problems, and Israeli issues should be see as national issues, not Jewish.
    Is it the ignorance that bred the Nazi murdering 6 million Jews? Do people still view Jews as sinister, conspiritorial troublemakers? I find no evidence of any kind.
    I’m baffled.

  • Anti-Semitism has become a worldwide topic these days, but Jews are also responsible for causing it. I am black and the author of Binoetics (Facebook/Binoetics). I paid some Jews (screenwriters) including actress Kathy Krantz Stewart and her husband Colin Stewart to write a screenplay for my book, but they didn’t. They took my money and treated me like a slave. They still refuse to return my money and my book. It is absolutely un-American. I wrote to Anti-Defamation League to complain about racism, discrimination and exploitation I have suffered in the hands of Jews, but they didn’t respond me. Violence begets violence, and I totally disagree with James Carr that Jews cause almost zero problems. Another screenwriter (a Jew) says black people can’t think straight, and the only thing they know is “religion.” This statement was made before the judge during the trial. I don’t see how black people are going to be pleased with this kind of insulting and stereotyping statement.

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