US anti-Semitism falls again, but ADL counsels warniness

1,554 incidents against Jewish individuals or institutions reported, a 12% drop from the 1,757 reported in 2005.

swastika 88 (photo credit: )
swastika 88
(photo credit: )
Anti-Defamation League officials were sounding a cautionary note following the release of the group's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents showing that attacks against Jewish targets in the United States declined for a second straight year. The audit, released Wednesday, reported 1,554 incidents against Jewish individuals or community institutions in the United States, a 12 percent drop from the 1,757 reported in 2005. In '06 there were 669 acts of vandalism, a slight increase from the previous year, while incidents of harassment or assault dropped substantially, from 1,140 to 885. "The audit is just one measure of anti-Semitism in the United States," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. "There is also an onslaught of anti-Semitism out there in blogs, e-mails and Web sites - and most significantly in conspiracy theories about alleged Jewish power which have even penetrated the mainstream - that simply cannot be quantified." Glen Lewy, the ADL's national chair, sounded a similar tone, noting that despite the decline, approximately four anti-Semitic attacks occur daily in the United States. Among those was a shooting attack last summer on the Jewish federation offices in Seattle in which the federation's assistant director, Pamela Waechter, was killed and five people were wounded. The alleged gunman was Naveed Afzal Haq, an American of Pakistani descent apparently motivated by anger over U.S. support for Israel. The highest number of attacks were reported in heavily Jewish districts in the Northeast, California and Florida, reflecting both the number of Jewish targets there and the increased reporting of anti-Semitic incidents in areas where the community is robust and the ADL enjoys a strong relationship with law enforcement. New York had the most reported incidents with 284, followed by New Jersey with 244, California with 204 and Florida with 179 - all of which were down from last year. Connecticut and Illinois saw significant increases, with the latter nearly doubling from 30 incidents to 56. Massachusetts saw a modest increase, from 93 to 96. Two trends the league identifies as "ongoing factors" - anti-Semitism in middle and high schools and on college campuses - both declined in 2006. ADL leaders seemed to downplay what appears to be good news. Foxman told JTA that notwithstanding yearly fluctuations, the number of incidents appears to have "settled" around 1,500 over the past 15 years, despite the community being "at the maximum" in terms of awareness, commitment to reporting and investment in security. "There's no trend established," Foxman said. "What we're concerned about, there is this leveling-off which is troubling, because we're not seeing a trend for the elimination of anti-Semitic incidents."