IV. Harassment, Threats and Assaults
Anti-Semitic acts of harassment, threats or assault against Jewish individuals or institutions remained
virtually the same in 1998 as they were in 1997. In 1998, there were 896 incidents, down from a total
of 898 in 1997. However, as in previous years,
incidents of this nature constitute the majority of all
anti-Semitic activity included in the Audit.
Graffiti on outside of a synagogue in Texas.
Anti-Semitic harassment covers a wide range of hostile acts, ranging from anti-Jewish slurs and affronts
to physical assault. Flyers containing anti-Semitic messages or leaflets from virulent anti-Semitic groups
left on cars or in mailboxes are considered acts of harassment, as are anti-Jewish or Holocaust-denying
letters to the editor or advertisements printed in newspapers. In addition, verbal or written threats
directed against individuals or Jewish institutions (including death threats and bomb threats) account
for a portion of the harassment incidents.
Over the last few years, as the Internet has moved into more and more homes, libraries and schools, the number of harassing and threatening acts associated with computers has increased. In 1998, several anti-Semitic and threatening messages were sent through electronic mail to Internet users. While most of these incidents are not criminal in nature, they shed light on an important form of anti-Semitism that is generally not included in hate crime statistics.
Examples of Harassment, Threat and Assault Incidents
The following is a representative sampling of anti-Semitic incidents of harassment, threat and assault in the 10 states reporting the highest totals of such acts in 1998.
New York (147 incidents) 11/13/98 At a bar in the Soho area of Manhattan, the bouncer reportedly asked people waiting on line if they were Jewish. If they responded yes, he asked them to leave. Seeing that some of the people attempted to cut back into the line, he asked, "Would you cut in line for the gas chamber?" The bouncer also repeatedly said "Heil Hitler."
California (142 incidents) 4/15/98 Anti-Semitic E-mail was received by 40 members of a Jewish education program for teen-agers. (Costa Mesa)
Florida (79 incidents) 4/7/98 A man picketed at a Holocaust Memorial with large placards alleging "Jewish Ritual Murder" of Christian children, agitating staff and visitors. He was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. (Miami Beach)
Massachusetts (74 incidents) 4/1/98 During a meeting for a home mortgage refinancing, the client reportedly said, "Hitler had the right idea with the Jews." The complainant refused to close the loan. (Brookline)
New Jersey (63 incidents) 12/4/98 Several adult males pulled up in a car, rang the victim's doorbell, and shouted anti-Semitic slurs before they drove away. (Manalapan Township)
Michigan (45 incidents) 4/10/98 Copies of obituaries of Jews were left on several car windshields, with the heading "Angry Aryan" on top of the page. (Ferndale)
Pennsylvania (42 incidents) 1/12/98 During a high school basketball game, fans shouted racist and anti-Semitic slurs at Black and Jewish players. The principal of the school where the incident occurred called the principal of the opposing school and made public statements of regret. (Wilkes-Barre)
Ohio (30 incidents) 4/15/98 A woman received a phone message on her answering machine which referred to her as a "f---ing kike," and said, "It's a shame Hitler didn't get all you bastards." (South Euclid)
Connecticut (29 incidents) 2/29/98 A woman received an anti-Semitic letter in the mail which included statements such as, "You stupid Jew, Hitler was right." (Greenwich)
Maryland (29 incidents) 10/27/98 Messages were left on the answering machine of a Jewish family. Among the anti-Semitic statements was, "The KKK is not only against Blacks, but also Jews." (Elkton)
Next: Vandalism Incidents