The Regional Breakdown
Of the 1,547 anti-Semitic incidents reported
to ADL in 1999, 901, or 58 percent, occurred in the East;
329, or 21 percent, occurred in the West; 126,
or 8 percent, occurred in the Midwest; and 191,
or 12 percent, occurred in the South.
East > The
West > The
In the 11 Eastern states plus the District of Columbia,
there were a total of 899 incidents (compared to 894 in 1998), the
highest of the four regions. Once again, New York had the most (352,
up from 324 in 1998), followed by New Jersey (226, down from 229);
Massachusetts (111, up from 107); Pennsylvania (82, up from 70);
Connecticut (79, up from 52); Maryland (17, down from 69); the District
of Columbia (17, down from 20); New Hampshire (6, down from 8);
Maine (3, down from 6); Delaware (3, up from 0); Rhode Island (2,
down from 6), and Vermont (1, down from 3).
In the East: A Disturbing
Number of Incidents Involving Teenagers
During 1999, New England was alarmed by the
number of anti-Semitic incidents involving youth. In December
1999 in Duxbury, MA, paintballs and a rock were thrown through
the window of a Jewish family's home and a note was left in
the mailbox saying, "This is what happens when you don't decorate
for Christmas." The District Attorney is charging three teen-age
girls under the state's Hate Crime Law. The Anti-Defamation
League is working with the interfaith community and met with
a diverse group of students, parents, and teachers to address
various issues within the school. ADL and school administrators
have committed to continued programming to create a positive
result from this unfortunate incident. Massachusetts also
saw anti-Semitic acts by teen-agers in Andover, where five
high school students burned a 20' x 20' swastika into the
playing field next to the school. The community responded
by rallying together to condemn this and all messages of hate.
ADL is working closely with students, school administrators
The World Church of the Creator,
a hate group based in Peoria, IL, is active in the East, distributing
hate-filled anti-Semitic and racist literature on the North
Shore in Massachusetts and in parts of Connecticut. Although
distribution of the literature is protected by the First Amendment,
ADL has been vocal in letting communities know about the World
Church of the Creator's record of violence and hate.
As the Internet continued
to expand into every corner of our culture in 1999, electronic
mail emerged as a favorite vehicle for purveyors of hate.
In New York, anti-Semitic E-mails are the favored method of
attack. One anti-Semitic offender in Nashua, NH, is being
prosecuted for E-mails he sent to a Jewish man in which he
made vulgar and terrifying threats and references to the victim
and his family, some of whom had fled Europe to escape the
Connecticut saw an increase
in the overall number of incidents at Jewish institutions
in 1999 (including at least two bomb threats), leading ADL
to expand its security outreach and training programs for
community institutions. Of equal concern was the surprising
number of incidents involving young people, including a cemetery
desecration by high-school students. Internet incidents included
E-mailed threats of violence and the chat-room harassment
of a high school student.
On Long Island, anti-Semitic
crimes now comprise a much larger percentage of all bias crimes.
Anti-Semitic acts in 1999 included 75 swastikas etched into
school windows at Centereach High School, and vandalism to
cars parked in a South Huntington Jewish Center parking lot
during services. In Hauppauge, an arsonist set fire to the
office of a synagogue. Long Island also saw numerous
anti-Semitic E-mails sent to Jewish people, including a teacher
in Nassau County.
In response to incidents of
anti-Semitism in 1999, ADL Long Island brought model hate-crime
legislation to the Suffolk County Legislature and through
lobbying efforts secured unanimous passage of a County Hate
Crimes Law with monetary penalties for bias crimes.
The ADL offices in Washington,
DC, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City are also working
closely with law enforcement, school and communities to respond
to every incident in a constructive and meaningful way.
West > The
East > The
Midwest > The
In the 13 Western states, there were a total of 331 anti-Semitic
incidents in 1999 (up from 308). California had the most, with 275
(up from 223 in 1998), followed by Colorado (13, up from 12); Nevada
(12, up from 10); New Mexico (12, up from 11); Washington (6, down
from 19); Utah (6, up from 0); Arizona (4, down from 26); Idaho
(2, down from 4); Hawaii (1, up from 0); Oregon (0, down from 2),
and Wyoming (0, down from 1). There were also no incidents reported
in Alaska or Montana in 1999 or 1998.
to a Year of Tragedy: A View from the West
Vicious hate crimes targeting
the Jewish community in the West made front-page news worldwide
in 1999. In June, three synagogues in Sacramento were set
on fire. The suspects, Matthew and Tyler Williams, are awaiting
trial for the murder of a gay couple in Northern California.
In August, Buford Furrow allegedly shot five people at the
North Valley Jewish Community Center in suburban Los Angeles
before murdering Joseph Veto, a Filipino postal carrier. In
November, a synagogue in Reno was firebombed, and area skinheads
have been charged with the crime.
Yet Jews were not the sole
targets of this year's brutal rampages. In jailhouse interviews,
the Williams brothers reportedly spoke about killing Jews
and gays as part of their mission. After going on a shooting
spree at the Jewish Community Center, Buford Furrow allegedly
shot Joseph Veto because he was both a non-white and a Federal
employee. Like Benjamin Smith's Midwest shooting spree targeting
Jews, African Americans and Asian Americans, this new generation
of haters targets anyone who is "different."
One of the most disturbing
threads that ran through hate crimes this year was the age
of the perpetrators. Members of the Nazi Low Riders, a vicious
white supremacist prison and street gang that has recently
come of age, are primarily under the age of 30. All of the
suspects in the Reno firebombing are under 30. The Williams
brothers are college educated.
According to national and
regional statistics, juveniles commit approximately 50 percent
of all hate crimes in which the perpetrators are known. In
addition, many young white supremacists in the West host Web
sites and send out Internet newsletters that reach many racists
and in turn seek to recruit young members. Indeed, as ADL
reports have emphasized, the Internet has become the communication
medium of choice for the new generation of haters.
Hate Group Involvement
In the West, many extremists
appear to be dancing in a mosh pit of hatred, bumping up against
violent and racist ideologies of different hate groups. At
the home of Tyler and Matthew Williams, law enforcement officials
found literature from a number of different,
and often conflicting, hate
groups. In a similar vein, groups that have traditionally
shunned or actively opposed each other appear to be joining
forces against their "common enemies." For instance, Tom Metzger
of White Aryan Resistance, a "pure racist" who has always
shunned religion, has been associating with Christian Identity
groups such as the Aryan Nations.
In this year of tragedy, both
the dedication of law enforcement and the support of community
members stand out. Law enforcement response was swift and
effective. It is apparent that the educational and training
initiatives undertaken by ADL and other groups have contributed
to the vigilant response. After the crimes, law enforcement
officials spent many hours with community institutions helping
them implement security procedures. After the shooting at
the North Valley JCC, the brave actions of the Los Angeles
Police Department saved the life of one of the victims. The
additional heroics performed by a team of paramedics, doctors
and nurses insured that the five people shot at the JCC survived.
At the Sacramento Unity Rally, thousands of people came out
to support the Jewish community and speak out against hate.
In Los Angeles, the family of Joseph Ileto has become a powerful
voice against bigotry, giving hope that tolerance and respect
Midwest > The
East > The
West > The
In the 14 states comprising the Midwestern region,
there were 126 incidents (down from 201) reported to ADL in 1999.
Michigan had the most, with 32 (down from 57 in 1998), followed
by Illinois (31, down from 36); Ohio (22, down from 35); Minnesota
(14, down from 32); Missouri (11, up from 7); Wisconsin (8, down
from 16); Indiana (4, down from 6); Nebraska (2, down from 3); West
Virginia (1, down frorn 2); Iowa (1, down from 2); Kansas (0, down
from 3); Kentucky (0, down from 1), and South Dakota (0, down from
1) Again, no incidents were reported in North Dakota in 1999.
The Midwest: Harvesting the
Bitter Fruits of Hate
The July 4 weekend of 1999
was, for some in the Midwest, both the beginning and the violent
end of summer. On the evening of July 2, Benjamin Nathaniel
Smith, an avowed white supremacist and leader in a fiercely
anti-Semitic and racist organization known as the World Church
of the Creator, initiated a twostate shooting spree that claimed
two lives and injured nine. The victims were all members of
racial and religious minority groups including African Americans,
Asians and Jews. Smith was so consumed by the hate rhetoric
espoused by the WCOTC that, much like a drug addict who becomes
a slave to his or her addiction, he ended up taking his own
life in pursuit of his hate objectives.
ADL had been following Smith
for the preceding 18 months in connection with his distribution
of anti-Semitic and racist literature championing "RAHOWA,"
or "racial holy war." Smith was arrested for violating municipal
littering ordinances and DUI charges. He acknowledged in a
documentary purchased by ABC News after the shooting
spree that if "they the government] won't let us pass out
our literature we will have no choice" but to engage in violence.
Both in scope and dimension,
the crimes of Benjamin Smith represented unprecedented regional
hate-motivated violence. Smith was substantially motivated
and swayed by Matthew Hale, the self-declared leader of the
World Church of the Creator. As "Pontifex Maximus" of the
"church," Hale advocates a total separation of races in order
to protect the genetic integrity of the white race from the
threats posed by "mud races" including Jews, African Americans
and all other racial and ethnic minorities. Hale promotes
the elimination of non-white races from the United States
by "repatriation to countries of origin."
In eulogizing Smith's suicide
to the media, Hale recalled bestowing the WCOTC's Leadership
Award on Smith for his zealotry in distributing the organization's
hate rhetoric. In fact, Smith was credited for distributing
more than 45,000 pieces of hate literature throughout the
suburbs of northern Chicago. Following Smith's death, Matthew
Hale and his followers have increased their distribution of
hate literature and public appearances throughout the Midwest
including recruitment efforts at Northwestern University in
Chicago, public appearances at Indiana University, and a newly
conceived cable-access television show. The events in the
aftermath of Smith's shooting spree have afforded Hale and
his band of bigots a degree of media coverage that Hale eagerly
covets. In a recent development, Hale was invited by a professor
at the University of Illinois-Springfield to lecture to a
class on "Ethics and Social Responsibility."
For the last year, ADL has confronted the
swill being dispensed by Hale and the World Church of the
Creator. Security conferences, media appearances, victim support,
educational initiatives and law enforcement outreach represent
a sampling of the many activities in which ADL has been engaged
to counter the insidious rhetoric of the WCOTC. While Hale
continues to pursue his nefarious objectives, ADL seeks to
insure that his is not the last word.
South > The
East > The
West > The
In the 12 Southern states, there
were a total of 191 incidents (down from 201). Florida reported
the most (88, down from 102 in 1998), followed by Texas (28, down
from 30); Georgia (25, up from 20); North Carolina (19, up from
9); Virginia (18, down from 38); Louisiana (7, up from 3); Arkansas
(3, up from 2); Tennessee (2, up from 0); Mississippi (1, up from
0); South Carolina (0, down from 2), and Alabama (0, dwn from 2).
No incidents were reported in Oklahoma in 1999 or 1998.
in the New Millennium:
A Southern Perspective
As the new millennium dawns,
the American Jewish community looks back on the 20th century
asking itself the age-old question: how did we fare? Certainly
the past hundred years were filled with marked contrasts for
Jews in America; the early years were filled with coarse,
overt anti-Semitism but subsequent decades have brought an
increasing acceptance and success.
The South has always been an extraordinary
and exotic place for Jews, in part due to their relatively
small numbers. Emigrating from Europe and Russia in the early
1900s, Jews established themselves in retail trades throughout
the Bible Belt. The ease with which they fit into the Christian
societies in which they found themselves varied. For some
individuals, assimilation and intermarriage followed; for
others, preservation of ancient traditions and rituals was
paramount. Not infrequently, instances of violent anti- Semitism
occurred with the acquiescence of the gentile community and
the local government - a phenomenon epitomized by the horrific
lynching of Leo Frank in 1915.
By ADLís measure, incidents
of anti-Semitism in the South appear to have declined during
the past five years. According to ADLís annual Audits,
occurrences of vandalism, threats, harassment, and intimidation
have decreased approximately 30 percent from 1995 to 1999
in the 12 states comprising the Southern Area (Alabama, Arkansas,
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).
Nevertheless, in 1999 the South experienced several phone
threats to Jewish institutions, synagogue vandalism and a
serious cemetery desecration.
But numbers alone do not provide
a complete picture of the incidents and the impact on the
victims and the communities involved. During the 20 years
in which ADL has published the Audit, the severity
of the incidents in a given year varies across a spectrum
- from the seemingly benign yet upsetting anti-Semitic utterance
to physical brutality against a Jewish individual or destruction
of an edifice. In 1999, two incidents stand out as especially
outrageous and distressing; together they prove that anti-Semitism
is a constant and that words alone can prove an effective
weapon in the hands of anti-Semites.
On Good Friday, April 2, 1999,
in Corpus Christi, TX, an advertisement in the local newspaper
reinvigorated the long-repudiated deicide charge against the
Jewish people in time for the Easter holiday. Titled "The
Fifteen Secret Tortures of Our Lord Jesus Christ," the ad
included this text:
The Jews considered me as
the most wretched man living on earth so that is why:
...4. They hanged Me on a wooden piece with
a slip-knot until I slipped out and fell down ....
5. They tied Me to a post and pierced My
body with various arms.
6. They struck Me with stones and burnt
Me with blasting embers and torches ....
7. They crowned me [sic] with an iron crown...
13. They threw Me upon a cross and attached
Me so tightly that I could hardly breathe anymore ....
ADL met numerous times over
the subsequent week with representatives of the Jewish community
and discussed the matter with editors of the newspaper. ADL's
intercession ultimately prompted the newspaper to publish
an erratum, but without an apology for the incalculable
offense and pain experienced by its Jewish readers.
In December 1999, a 77-year-old
man was arrested for phoning in a series of 15 bomb threats
to synagogues in Broward County FL, and to the 911 emergency
operator over a five-month period. Charged with 13 felony
counts, the former shoemaker explained that he has a "deep-seated
hatred of Jewish people" and, now that he is retired, has
more time on his hands. ADL, working cooperatively with law
enforcement, had sent a mailing to area synagogues instructing
them to place tape recorders on their phone lines. The calls
were particularly alarming in the aftermath of violent shootings
of Jewish individuals in Los Angeles and Chicago over the
The beginning of a new millennium
presents ADL with yet another opportunity to meet a familiar
challenge: to oppose vigorously and steadfastly anti-Semitism
in its many guises. It is a task for which we are historically
and institutionally well suited.