Anti-Semitic Incidents At Lowest Level in Over 30 Years


The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. dropped again last year. The amount of anti-semitic incidents in 2013 was at the lowest level in over 30 years of reporting by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

There were anti-Jewish incidents in the country during 2013 dropped 19 percent from the 927 that took place in 2012. While that is good news, there were still 751 reported cases of physical assault, vandalism and harassment again Jews and Jewish property last year. They took place in 41 states and the District of Columbia, according to the ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, which has been conducted since 1979.

While the total declined, the audit showed an increase in violent assaults. The 2013 data includes 31 anti-Semitic assaults compared to 17 the previous year. The report chronicles an increase in so-called knockout attacks, in which someone delivers a sucker punch to an unsuspecting passer-by. There were seven of those in New York City alone. Other examples of assaults reported involved an unprovoked attack by four men in Brooklyn, NY, on a 24-year-old wearing a yarmulke and an attack on a Jewish male in Los Angeles by five males who struck him and shouted a Nazi slogan. None of the 31 assaults required hospitalization, but their violent, in-your-face manner serves as a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism and bigotry still exist in the U.S., according to Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL National Director.

While nationally, anti-semitic incidents were at their lowest levels in over the past 30 years, the ADL also published state-by-state information. New York and California topped the states that experienced a decline in overall incidents, with 203 and 143 incidents reported respectively. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had the greatest increases, but their totals were still relatively low and less than 30 percent of the California’s.

On campuses nationwide, the total number of incidents was down 40 percent. However, Jewish students still experienced events, such as swastikas painted on a students’ doors or whiteboards in Ithaca, New York; Boston, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also, in New Haven, Connecticut, graffiti in a Yale University building threatened the college’s Slifka Center for Jewish Life with an arson attack.

One theory for the overall decline in incidents was a drop in anti-Israel activity as compared to other years. When there has been demonstrations against Israeli military action in the past, more anti-Semitic rhetoric has been spurred up.

The ADL was founded in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism and bigotry. The ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents looks at criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, such as hate mail or threats. They compile the data from victims, law enforcement and community leaders.

The audit does not include anti-Jewish material on the Internet or social media tools, unless it targets a specific person. Foxman cautions that the Internet still plays a role in fomenting hate crimes by providing racists and bigots with an outlet to reach millions. Viral hate on the Web and social networks are not included since the postings would be hard to quantify. However, it is easy to imagine without an audit that anti-Semitic incidents in the Web’s virtual world are not at their lowest levels, like those real-world ones reported by the ADL over the past 30-some years.

By Dyanne Weiss

Anti-Defamation League
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