V. Vandalism Incidents
Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism increased 6 percent in 1998 after a 14 percent decrease in 1997. ADL recorded a total of 715 incidents of vandalism in 1998, compared to 673 in 1997.
Anti-Semitic vandalism incidents include destruction of property coupled with anti-Jewish messages or evidence of anti-Semitic intent. This encompasses 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 177 such incidents in 1998 (129 of which occurred in the five boroughs of New York City). This marks a 22 percent decrease from 1997, when there were 228 incidents of vandalism.
New Jersey registered the second highest number of anti-Semitic incidents of vandalism with 166, an increase of nearly 25 percent from 133 such acts last year and equal to the figure for 1996. California had 81, up from the total of 56 from 1997. Maryland recorded 40, down from 53 in 1997; Massachusetts had 33 incidents, down from 42.
Vandalism: Most Serious Incidents
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 1998, there were two acts of arson and one arson attempt. In addition, there were four bomb threats and one bombing attempt.
Jewish cemeteries continued to be a target of opportunity for anti-Semitic vandals, in part because they cover large areas of land that are difficult to secure effectively. The number of Jewish cemetery desecrations decreased to 10 from last year's 14. Four such incidents occurred in New Jersey, while others occurred in New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia.
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