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Anti-Semitic assaults spike in US

The words “No Jews” and a swastika spray-painted on a sidewalk in Pico-Robertson, Calif., in June 2015. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

WASHINGTON (RNS) Violent anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. rose 50 percent last year. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were a total of 56 against Jewish victims.

“And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, which produced the study and calls the trend “very concerning.”

The increase occurred as the total number of anti-Semitic incidents — including physical and verbal assaults and vandalism  — remained fairly steady, rising 3 percent from 2014.

“In 2015, Violence Against Jews Increased Substantially.” Graphic courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

“In 2015, Violence Against Jews Increased Substantially.” Graphic courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

Examples of anti-Semitic assaults in 2015 include:

— An assailant in Boca Raton, Fla., shouted, “Jews should go back to Auschwitz” and struck a rabbinical student, who fell to the pavement.

— Two people walking home from synagogue in Brooklyn were pelted with eggs by four perpetrators shouting: “You f—— Jews. I am going to kill you.”

— Two assailants approached a high school student wearing a yarmulke in Denver and yelled, “Hey kike, when I talk to you, you talk back,” and threw a large rock that hit the victim on the back.

Overall the number of anti-Semitic incidents is “historically low,” according to the ADL, which was founded to combat anti-Semitism and other bigotry, and started tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.

The peak since then was in 2006, when 1,554 incidents were reported. The general trend since then has been a decline. And as in past years, more anti-Semitic incidents occurred in states with larger Jewish populations. New York and California again led the list, followed by New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts.

“States With Large Jewish Populations Had the Highest Number of Anti-Semitic Incidents in 2015.” Graphic courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

“States With Large Jewish Populations Had the Highest Number of Anti-Semitic Incidents in 2015.” Graphic courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

But the ADL report, its authors noted, does not include most expressions of anti-Semitism within the “explosion” of it online, and on social media in particular. The report includes incidents of online anti-Semitism directed at a Jewish person or institution, but not general expressions of anti-Semitism.

“The issue has grown exponentially in recent years because the internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions,” Greenblatt said. The ADL in future years plan to capture in its report more online anti-Semitism, which researchers tracked with the rise in political expression this election season.

Another category in the current report that defies the longer-term, general trend of declining anti-Semitic incidents is the steep rise in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses. Those nearly doubled, from 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014 to 90 incidents on 60 campuses in 2015.

That finding dovetails with those of another recent report, which focuses entirely on the rise in anti-Semitism at American colleges and universities. A report from the Amcha Initiative blames supporters of the movement to boycott Israel as “the primary agents of antisemitic activity” on campuses.


READ: Anti-Semitism on campus linked to anti-Israel activity


At Drexel University in 2015, someone used tape to write “Jew” and a swastika next to a student’s Israeli flag. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

At Drexel University in 2015, someone used tape to write “Jew” and a swastika next to a student’s Israeli flag. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

Among the anti-Semitic incidents on American colleges and universities included in the ADL report:

— A student found a swastika and the word “Jew” taped next to his Israeli flag at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

— The phrase “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was found in a campus restroom and another on a university-owned building at the University of California at Berkeley.

— Vandals spray-painted swastikas on the exterior wall of a Jewish fraternity at the University of California at Davis.

Anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East presents a yet larger problem, with anti-Semitism manifesting itself in more violence toward — and even the murders of — Jews.


READ: Anti-Semitism in Europe: ‘The devil that never dies’


 

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.)

7 Comments

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  • This is unconscionable; what is particularly troubling is that much of this anti-Semitism is appearing on the campuses of American educational institutions, where staff and students alike are supposed to be broadening their minds and learning to interact graciously with their fellows, even those with whom they disagree. Education is supposed to make us bigger, not smaller.

  • So, figured I’d do some math, based on the following claim “The peak since then was in 2006, when 1,554 incidents were reported.”

    Given an American Jewish population of 5.4 million persons, this gives us that each year 0.03% of Jewish persons experienced antisemitism during the “peak year” of antisemitism.

    Average US life expectancy is 78.74 years. (Falsely) assuming that every year is as bad as the peak year, an average Jewish person has a 2.24% chance of experiencing (any act of) antisemitism in their lifetime.

    Based on the numbers stated by this article, this just doesn’t seem like a big problem.

  • Each time I read a report like this, or see discrimination for myself, I feel so disappointed. I have higher expectations for Americans. I don’t mean only the hate crime perpetrators, but the people not directly involved. I want louder and more universal condemnation of the hate crime perpetrator and his acts. It doesn’t matter if the target is Jewish, Muslim, LBTG, a woman or girl, disabled, black or brown. The hate tarnishes America every time.

  • Re “The peak since then was in 2006, when 1,554 incidents were reported.”:
    The keyword is “reported”.

  • “I want louder and more universal condemnation of the hate crime perpetrator and his acts.”

    I’ll bet there are a lot of Americans who feel the same way. I’m hopeful that our voices,
    as they grow louder and more numerous, will effect a sea change in American values,
    in our American leaders, and in how Americans as a society choose to respond to such unconscionable expressions of hate-filled hubris.

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