The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to
secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike." Now one of the nation's premier civil
rights/human relations agencies, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic
ideals and protects civil rights for all.
Anti-Semitic, anti-ADL graffiti defaced
Temple Adat Shalom in San Diego, California.
A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication,
understanding and respect among diverse racial, religious and ethnic groups, carrying out its mission
through a network of 30 Regional and Satellite Offices in the United States and abroad.
I. Executive Summary
In 1998, 42 states and the District of Columbia reported 1,611 anti-Semitic incidents to the Anti-Defamation League. This marks approximately a more than 2 percent increase in anti-Jewish activity from 1997, after a three-year decline.
Anti-Semitic activity reported in 1998 includes acts of harassment (intimidation, threats and assaults) and vandalism (property damage as well as arson and cemetery desecrations).
As in the past, harassment directed at individuals and institutions made up more than half of all incidents reported.
The increase in anti-Semitic incidents comes at a time of growing public awareness about hate crime activity. Heightened sensitivity to this issue has led to the enactment of hate crime penalty-enhancement statutes -- many based on ADL's model -- in 40 states and the District of Columbia; the Federal Hate Crime Statistics Act, and the formation of anti-bias education programs nationwide. At the same time, many incidents comprising the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents are not crimes.
Eighty-six incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on college campuses, a 17 percent decrease from 1997.
The Audit does not exist in a vacuum. While crime rates in general have declined, there are still many groups dedicated to acting on their racist and anti-Semitic views. In addition to their mass mailings of anti-Semitic propaganda and printings of anti-Jewish and racist publications, these extremist groups have found in the Internet a growing vehicle for their hate. As a medium that is inexpensive and almost impossible to regulate, the Internet has become an increasingly active component of the anti-Semitic propaganda machine.
The Audit is not only a catalog of anti-Jewish acts that took place in 1998. It seeks also to uncover trends in anti-Semitic activity, especially changes in the types of activity reported, such as increases in the proportion of attacks against Jewish institutions. The Audit also sheds light on ways in which communities come together after experiencing anti-Semitism to counteract the painful effects of hate. Analysis of the reported incidents, combined with an examination of some of the more serious outlets for anti-Jewish expression in the U.S., should lead to a more complete understanding of anti-Semitism in America, and the positive steps that have been and will be taken to counter it.