Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism decreased in 1999 after a 6 percent
increase in 1998. ADL recorded a total of 679 incidents of vandalism
in 1999, compared to 715 in 1998, a decrease of 5 percent. Acts
of vandalism accounted for 44 percent of the total of 1,547 incidents
Anti-Semitic incidents of vandalism include any destruction of
property coupled with anti-Jewish messages or evidence of anti-Semitic
intent. This encompasses any defacement of synagogues or other Jewish
institutions, whether it be with graffiti, smashing windows or,
in more serious instances, arson. Vandals also acted against privately
owned Jewish property by marking swastikas and anti-Semitic messages
on doors and lawns or by scratching them into cars. About half of
the incidents in this category are public acts of anti-Semitic vandalism,
including swastikas and anti Jewish graffiti on sides of buildings,
on street signs and in schools.
New York, the state with the largest Jewish population, once again
recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism of
any state. There were 202 such incidents in 1999 (106 of which occurred
in the five boroughs of New York City). This marks a 14 percent
increase from 1998, when there were 177 incidents of vandalism.
New Jersey registered the second highest number of anti-Semitic
incidents of vandalism with 136, a decrease of 18 percent from 166
such acts last year. California had 109, up from the total of 81
from 1998. Massachusetts recorded 36, up from 33 in 1998; Pennsylvania
had 28, which is the same figure as in 1998.
Vandalism: A Look at Some Noteworthy
While most of the incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism consisted
of graffiti and light property damage, there were instances of more
dangerous and damaging acts of destruction. In 1999, there were
seven acts of arson and two arson attempts. In addition, there were
three bomb threats, and one bombing attempt.
- On February 11, suspects forced their way into a Stafford Township,
NJ, residence, poured several gallons of kerosene on the floor,
walls and furniture, and wrote anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls.
- On August 15, Temple Beth Chai, in Hauppauge, NY, was firebombed.
No one was injured, and the blaze was contained by firefighters
shortly after they responded to the alarm at 3 a.m.
- On September 7, vandals overturned 24 gravestones at a Jewish
cemetery in Inskster, MI. Several headstones were damaged in the
84-year-old burial ground.
- On September 14, an elderly woman's car was vandalized by anti-Semitic
graffiti, and then set on fire, while parked in front of The Corey
Colonial Condominiums, in Agawam, MA.
- On November 30, a molotov cocktail was thrown at a window of
a temple in Reno, NV Area skinheads have been charged with the
Jewish cemeteries continued to be a target of opportunity for anti-Semitic
vandals, in part due to the fact that they cover large areas of
land that are difficult to secure effectively. The number of Jewish
cemetery desecrations increased to 12 in 1999, up from eight in
1998. Four such incidents occurred in Connecticut, two in New Jersey,
two in Texas, while others occurred in New York, Michigan, North
Carolina and Washington.