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Anti-Semitism in the US hits 4-decade high: report

May 12, 2020

2019 was the worst year for anti-Semitic attacks since the Anti-Defamation League began keeping records. This included a massive uptick in violent assaults.

Funeral service after the shooting at Pittsburgh Synagogue
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Tampa Ba Times/B. Wittpenn

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States hit a four-decade high in 2019, according to the latest report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the US' oldest and largest Jewish NGOs. The ADL's annual audit published late on Tuesday found that over 2,000 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment had taken place – the most since the group started keeping track in 1979.

"The record number of incidents came as the Jewish community grappled with vicious and lethal antisemitic attacks against communities in Poway, Jersey City and Monsey, and a spree of violent assaults in Brooklyn," the ADL noted in its report.

Of the 96 victims of violent assaults, including five fatalities, across the US, 25 were targeted in Brooklyn alone. The area is home to many Hasidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

In total, there were 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents in the US, occurring in every US state except Alaska and Hawaii. This number represents a 12% increase on 2018. Overall, harassment increased by 6%, vandalism by 19%, and assault by a massive 56%.

"It's clear we must remain vigilant in working to counter the threat of violent antisemitism and denounce it in all forms, wherever the source and regardless of the political affiliation of its proponents," said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's chief executive.

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Students targeted

The annual report also highlighted that while incidents had decreased slightly at synagogues and Jewish community centers, anti-Semitism continued to increase at schools and universities.

In at least 170 cases, the motivation for the hate crimes was "anti-Israel animus" and that many Jewish school children and university students were targeted for their "real or assumed connection to Israel."

Greenblatt said one of the most important tools in fighting hate was better education about Jewish history and the Holocaust, adding that the ADL would petition state and federal governments to ensure this is included in school curriculums.

The FBI has also reported that all forms of hate crime across the US had hit a 16-year high. The bureau found that the vast majority of hate crimes in New York City targeted Jewish people, while overall the biggest increase was against the Latinx community amidst an atmosphere of anti-immigrant sentiment fomented by the incendiary rhetoric of the Trump administration.

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Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.