U.S. Anti-Semitic Incidents Spike 86 Percent
Incidents increase in Michigan as well
Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. surged more than one-third in 2016 and have jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to new data from the Anti-Defamation League.
In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, ADL reports that there has been a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational K-12 grade schools.
In 2016, there was a 34 percent year-over-year increase in incidents — assaults, vandalism and harassment — with a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. Nearly 30 percent of these incidents occurred in November and December.
The surge has continued during the first three months of 2017. Americans of all faiths have felt the increase, and in a poll ADL released earlier this month, a majority said they are concerned about violence in the U.S. directed at Jews.
“There’s been a significant, sustained increase in anti-Semitic activity since the start of 2016, and what’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “Clearly, we have work to do and need to bring more urgency to the fight.”
Heidi Budaj, Michigan Regional Director of the ADL, said, “We have experienced an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Michigan, from a total of six in 2015, to 15 reported incidents in 2016 and 11 incidents in the first quarter of 2017.
“The tenor of verbal harassment against Jewish students in elementary schools through college-age students is disturbing. Jewish students have been told to ‘go back to Auschwitz’ or ‘we are warming up the ovens for you.’ There have been three reported cases of vandalism of Jewish institutions through March 2017, a trend which is concerning,” she said.
“ADL Michigan is committed to increasing the impact of educational programs, and we will continue to confront the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it arises.”
In the first quarter of 2017, preliminary reports of the 541 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide included:
- 380 harassment incidents, including 161 bomb threats, an increase of 127 percent over the same quarter in 2016;
- 155 vandalism incidents, including three cemetery desecrations, an increase of 36 percent;
- Six physical assault incidents, a decrease of 40 percent.
In 2016, the 1,266 anti-Semitic incidents included:
- 720 harassment and threat incidents, an increase of 41 percent over 2015;
- 510 vandalism incidents, an increase of 35 percent;
- 36 physical assault incidents, a decrease of 35 percent.
According to the ADL report, the 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role in the increase. There were 34 incidents linked to the election. For example, in Denver, graffiti posted in May 2016 said, “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” In November, a St. Petersburg, Fla., man was accosted by someone who told him “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.”
Incidents on college campuses remained mostly flat, but anti-Semitic incidents at non-Jewish elementary, middle and high schools increased 106 percent, from 114 in 2015 to 235 in 2016. This increase accelerated in the first quarter of 2017, when 95 incidents were reported.
“Schools are a microcosm of the country,” Greenblatt said. “Children absorb messages from their parents and the media, and bring them into their schools and playgrounds. We are very concerned the next generation is internalizing messages of intolerance and bigotry.”
Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, said, “These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States. Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community on and off line.”