NEW YORK - Antisemitic incidents in the United States surged by 34 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and have jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, new data released by the Anti-Defamation League on Monday showed.In its annual ‘Audit of Antisemitic Incidents’, the ADL reported that there has been a “massive increase” in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, the month of the US presidential election.The report stated that there was a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions in 2016, nearly 30% of which occurred in November and December. These incidents included 720 incidents of harassment and threats, 510 vandalism acts and 36 physical assault incidents.
The number includes 161 bomb threats, for which a 19-year-old dual American Israeli citizen living in Ashkelon was arrested last month. The teen is believed to have generated most of the bomb threats called in to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish organizations, including the ADL, since January in the US.While organizations debated whether or not these threats could be labeled as antisemitism - the perpetrator being Jewish - the ADL had made clear last month that they consider them as such. In addition, the beginning of the year saw 155 vandalism acts - including three cemetery desecrations- and six physical assault incidents. Among the latest incident, included one last month, in which a New York rabbi received a threatening email, which read in part: “Things will start getting bloodier for the Jew boys, I know where you live.” According to the data, if antisemitic occurrences continue at this rate, 2017 could end with over 2,000 incidents.The reported acts of antisemitism were spread out across the country. The states with the highest number of incidents were California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts - all homes to large Jewish communities.“What’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said. “Clearly, we have work to do and need to bring more urgency to the fight.”In the report, the ADL noted that the 2016 presidential election and the “heightened political atmosphere” played a role in the increase. Thirty four incidents were in fact directly linked to the election. Among them, in May 2016 text saying “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump” was found in Denver, Colorado, and in November, a Florida man was accosted by someone who told him “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.”Greenblatt vowed to “use every resource available to put a stop to antisemitism” but stressed the need for more leaders to speak out and take more action against what he called a “cancer of hate.”While incidents on college campuses remained mostly at their usual rate, the organization noted that the amount of antisemitic bullying and vandalism at non-Jewish kindergartens to 12th grade schools has increased 106%, 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.”"These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States,” director of the ADL Center on Extremism Oren Segal added. “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.” The ADL has been tracking antisemitic incidents in the United States since 1979. The annual audit includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders. The data is then evaluated by ADL’s staff, and aims to provide a snapshot of antisemitism in the US.The organization said it uses the data in developing its programs to “counter and prevent the spread of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.”
Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecrated by vandals , suspected antisemitism (credit: REUTERS)