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Antisemitism spiked in 2022, but physical assaults were few, ADL reports

The majority of the incidents reported in the 2022 audit constituted antisemitic harassment.

A heat map of antisemitism incidents in 2022, based on a recent audit by the Anti-Defamation League. Image courtesy of ADL

(RNS) — A new audit of antisemitism in the U.S. shows a continued growth in the number of incidents reported in 2022.

The Anti-Defamation League’s newest report tabulated 3,697 antisemitic incidents last year in three large categories: harassment, vandalism and assault.

According to the ADL, the rise in antisemitism represents a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents tabulated in 2021 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

But the number of incidents categorized as assaults was relatively small: 111 in total, or about 3%. Four incidents included a deadly weapon.

The report cites one death in 2022, but the victim in that case was not Jewish. Thomas Meixner, head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, was shot to death by a student on Oct. 5. The professor was Catholic. Weeks after the shooting, it came to light that the student expressed antisemitic beliefs online.

Half of the assaults, defined as attempts to inflict physical harm, were on Orthodox Jews whose dress distinguishes them as Jewish. The majority of those were in New York City.

RELATED: White supremacist propaganda scaled new heights in 2022, ADL report finds

The most notable antisemitic attack in 2022 took place Jan. 15 when a 44-year-old British citizen entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and took four people, including the rabbi, hostage at gunpoint. After an 11-hour standoff, the hostages escaped unharmed and the gunman was killed.

The report also details 91 bomb threats called into or emailed to Jewish institutions or schools in 2022.

But the majority of the incidents, reported to ADL directly via its online form, email or phone message, constituted harassment. Of the total 3,697 incidents, 2,298 incidents were described as harassment, both in-person and online.

The report cites 852 incidents of white supremacist propaganda and 589 incidents, mostly of harassment, at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, community centers and schools.

The ADL audit’s methodology has recently come under some criticism. Last May, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt equated anti-Zionism with antisemitism, a view that many Jews reject. He also called out anti-Zionist groups, some of which are Jewish, as the “photo inverse” of the white-nationalist right.

“We think it’s really important for communities Jewish and beyond not to be painted with the same brush as people who are actively calling for violence,” said Audrey Sasson, executive director of the New York-based Jews for Racial & Economic Justice.

The 2022 audit, says it did not include instances of “legitimate” anti-Israel political protest and expressions of opposition to Israeli policies. But the audit does include  public statements of opposition to Zionism, “when it can be determined that they had a negative impact on one or more Jewish individuals or identifiable, localized groups of Jews.” 

And it did include “cases of picketing of Jewish religious or cultural institutions for their purported or real support for Israel.”

David Schanzer, a professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University, who teaches a class on combating hate in the digital age, said some of incidents might be hard to impartially categorize.

“Some of the incidents rely on a subjective determination of whether opposition to Israel and Zionism bleeds into antisemitism,” said David Schanzer, a professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University, who teaches a class on combating hate in the digital age. “But it is also the case that some anti-Zionist protests do rely on antisemitic tropes or call for the destruction of the Jewish state or harm to people living in Israel.”

The antisemitic audit comes one week after a Pew Research study found that far more Americans express favorable than unfavorable views of Jews. In fact, the study found Jews rated higher in American estimations than any other religious group.

While 81% of Jews rated their own group favorably, Christians across various subgroups also rated Jews much more favorably than unfavorably. Among evangelicals, 45% rated Jews favorably, compared with 6% who have an unfavorable view toward Jews. Jews were also the only religious group who received a positive rating from atheists, the survey found.

RELATED: Is there really a major wave of antisemitism in America?


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