Anti-Semitic incidents decline in US for third year

But New York state shows 23% increase.

anti-semitism 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
anti-semitism 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined for the third consecutive year in 2007, according to an Anti-Defamation League audit released Wednesday. But New York state bucked the national trend, with a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents - including threats, vandalism and harassment. The league's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents counted a total of 1,357 incidents of vandalism, harassment and other acts of hate in 2007, representing a 13 percent decline from 2006. Anti-Semitic acts last crested in the US in 2004, when 1,821 incidents were reported, according to the ADL Audit. ADL officials warn against complacency. "The numbers are now in decline, but that doesn't belittle the fact that there were over 1,350 incidents, which include assaults on people and communities," said Arieh O'Sullivan, spokesman for the ADL in Israel. Swastikas were was found in hundreds of attacks on buildings, synagogues, cemeteries and private homes. In one of the most noteworthy instances, a swastika the size of a football field was carved into a Mercer County, New Jersey, cornfield. New York State had 351 reported incidents, the most in the US and a 23% increase from 2006. Of those, 112 were cases of harassment - criminal and noncriminal - and 239 were incidents of vandalism. There was a 188% increase in anti-Semitic incidents across New York from September 1 to October 31, 2007, to 101, compared with the same period in 2006, when there were 35. Incidents in New York included: an attack on four Jewish college students riding the Q train in the subway in Brooklyn; a swastika painted on the office door of a Columbia University Jewish professor; multiple swastikas and graffiti smeared on a yeshiva school bus in Brooklyn on the eve of Yom Kippur, with phrases such as "F*** Jews" and the "second coming of Hitler" on the windows; 20 incidents involving swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti marked on public property, such as street signs and subway stations; and swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans spray-painted in at least 23 different locations in Brooklyn Heights, including on two synagogues, an apartment building, several homes and cars. In January 2008, the alleged perpetrator of the spray-painted swastikas, Ivaylo Ivanov, was arrested and charged with a hate crime. In 2007, reported incidents of extremist group activity were down 44% from 2006. The decrease was in large part due to a reduction in the number of reported incidents of anti-Semitic leafletting. But ADL officials said the decline might also reflect an increasing reliance on the Internet to spread propaganda. "Neo-Nazis would hand out fliers on the corner. Now they hand it out on Web," O'Sullivan said. Hate sites on the Internet continued to multiply in 2007 and extremists continued to exploit social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and You Tube, and blogs, using text messages and videos to propagate anti-Semitism. The ADL Audit does not count incidents occurring in cyberspace, because they are extremely difficult to quantify, officials said. "We have a full staff dedicated to monitoring hate on the Internet," said the ADL's national civil rights director, Deborah Lauter. "This is probably one of the highest priorities in the new fight in monitoring hate and extremism."