XI. Note on Evaluating Anti-Semitic Incidents
The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is an account of overt acts and expressions of anti-Jewish bigotry or hostility. It reflects accurately the number of incidents reported to ADL and to law enforcement agencies when such figures are made available. It is not and does not claim to be a scientific measure of anti-Semitism in all of its forms.
As previously noted, many incidents reported in the Audit are not crimes. For example, disturbing neo-Nazi pamphlets or slurs directed against Jewish individuals are both protected free speech. Therefore, there will be discrepancies between the total numbers of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the Audit and in official law enforcement bias crime statistics.
Overt and obvious expressions of anti-Jewish animosity are certainly easiest to categorize as anti-Semitic incidents and the vast majority of incidents in the Audit reveal overt expressions of anti-Semitism. Swastikas spray-painted on synagogues or on tombstones in Jewish cemeteries, and epithets like "dirty Jew" directed against people wearing identifiable Jewish clothing (such as yarmulkes), are all clear evidence of anti-Semitism. More difficult to classify are situations such as when a Jewish institution is vandalized without any specific anti-Semitic graffiti. For the purposes of this report, any deliberate and gratuitous destruction of Jewish property (such as broken windows or display cases) is counted in the Audit. Therefore, a stone thrown at a synagogue window, even without any markings of anti-Semitic intent, is considered anti-Jewish hostility. While there may not be conclusive evidence to that effect, ADL makes judgments based on likelihood and probability.
From year to year, ADL strives to maintain a consistent policy of evaluating anti-Semitic incidents in an effort to make accurate and reliable comparisons. There are times, however, when a significant shift in the types of anti-Semitism reported emerges, which requires a rethinking of Audit procedure. In response to the explosion of Internet use in the past few years, ADL has instituted the following policy on evaluating Internet-related incidents:
Anti-Semitic hate messages, threats or harassment received by electronic mail are treated as if they were sent by traditional mail and are therefore considered anti-Semitic harassment. These messages are sent deliberately from one person to another in an effort to intimidate and frighten. As with mass mailings or local distribution of hate literature, an anti-Semitic E-mail sent to a large number of recipients is classified as one incident.
Hate-filled sites on the World Wide Web are not included as anti-Semitic incidents in the Audit. Much like the hate-filled propaganda newspapers published around the country, a Web site is a publication whose authors and points of view are often known prior to viewing. While Internet users may be offended by reading Jew-hatred on the Aryan Nations' Web page, they should not be any more shocked than if they found it in a traditional source, such as the publications The White Patriot and The Klansmen.
The paramount purpose of the ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has always been to provide one way of measuring the various forms of anti-Semitism prevalent in the United States. Com-munities and their elected and law enforcement officials can use this reliable analysis of anti-Semitic activity as a baseline criterion for evaluating these incidents. In this way, the Audit serves as a tool that tells part of the story of anti-Semitism in America.
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