California: Anti-Semitic Incidents Show Slight Decline in 2007
Los Angeles, CA, March 5, 2008 … While the number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide and in California declined slightly in 2007, they remain at a disturbingly high level, according to newly issued statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, reported a total of 1,357 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2007, a 13 percent decline from 2006. In California, the number of reported incidents was down from 204 to 186.
Nevertheless, two incidents in Los Angeles were particularly noteworthy. In May, Los Angeles City Council Member Jack Weiss's Sherman Oaks office was defaced by swastikas and anti-Semitic writings. In August, members of the Orthodox community were assaulted with a pellet gun in the Fairfax neighborhood.
Also of concern is the rash of anti-Semitic incidents in the San Fernando Valley so far in 2008. In the first two months of this year, a car was keyed with a swastika, Molotov cocktails were used in attacks on the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus and a private residence, both in West Hills, and a large swastika was reportedly painted on a Jewish-owned moving truck.
Swastika Symbol of Choice for Anti-Semites
Anti-Semitic incidents in the Pacific Southwest Region of the ADL (Los Angeles, Kern, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties) reflected what was also shown nationally in the ADL report – the swastika was predominant in a large number of incidents and remained the symbol of choice for anti-Semites, according to the ADL Audit.
Across the county, the Nazi symbol, one of the most powerful and enduring emblems of religious and ethnic hatred, was present in hundreds of attacks against buildings, synagogues, cemeteries and private homes.
In addition to being pasted on City Councilmember Weiss' office, swastikas were painted on a Brentwood home, used to deface a Westside Jewish student's Myspace photo, brandished across a newspaper vending machine in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles, placed on a Jewish resident's condominium front door in West Hollywood, painted on a sidewalk in front of a Los Angeles synagogue, etched on homes in Beverly Hills, and included in menacing notes sent to synagogues in Los Angeles and North Hollywood. In addition to reported cases of swastikas, there were several instances of use of the equally hateful, "Heil Hitler."
"We continue to be alarmed that anti-Semitic incidents remain at a disturbing level," said Amanda Susskind, ADL Pacific Southwest Regional Director. She noted that hate crime figures released by the California State Attorney General's office and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations consistently show Jews to be far and away the most frequently targeted religious group. The most recent Hate Crimes Report released by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations for 2006 shows that Jews continue to be the most frequently targeted religious group, accounting for 71 percent of religious-based hate crimes. The "Hate Crime in California" report for 2006 shows anti-Jewish crimes representing 63 percent of religious-based hate crimes.
Incidents in Greater Los Angeles reflected the infusion of anti-Jewish harassment into the mainstream. This includes graffiti, name-calling, bullying and verbal abuse of Jews in the schools, the workplace and in society in general, as well as continued vandalism at Jewish community institutions.
"With anti-Semitic epithets more common in schools, the workplace and every day life, we must redouble our efforts to counteract and prevent root causes of hate," said Susskind. ADL focuses on teaching anti-bias training starting in preschool and continuing through high school, college and the workplace. "We hope to see this trend reversed."
Some incidents reported to the ADL Pacific Southwest Region in 2007 included:
- An employee in Sherman Oaks was told by a co-worker, "Get off your lazy Jewish ass or I'll get you fired," and was called a "Jewish dog."
- A community college student in Los Angeles reported that a teacher continually made statements derogatory toward Jews.
- An anti-Semitic message was left on an answering machine in Tarzana stating, "Hitler didn't kill enough of you."
- A disabled resident of low-income housing in West Hollywood complained of another resident calling him "Jew boy, dirty Jew, cheap Jew."
- A supermarket employee in La Quinta alleged that a customer called her a "dirty, filthy Jew."
- A sign stating "No Jews Allowed" in German was placed in a mobile home park in Hemet.
- "Die Jew" and KKK were spray painted on a car in Granada Hills (photo available).
- The word "Jew" was keyed into a car in West Los Angeles.
- Following a dispute, a neighbor claimed to be a member of Aryan Nations and threatened to paint a swastika on the Jewish neighbor's garage.
Anti-Jewish Harassment in Schools
Nationally, a total of 197 anti-Semitic acts were reported at middle and high schools nationwide, compared to 193 reported in 2006. These incidents took the form of swastikas and hate graffiti painted or written on desks, walls and other school property, name-calling, slurs, mockery, bullying and assaults, with some directed at teachers, as well as at Jewish students.
Cyberbullying also became an increasing concern in the schools. In an effort to address the problem, ADL unveiled a new program to educate students and teachers about how to confront hateful messages sent via cell phones, text messaging and email.
Reports of school-based hate incidents in Greater Los Angeles in 2007 included:
- A high school teacher in Burbank complained of finding "F--- Jews" written on the classroom blackboard and overhead projector.
- An elementary student in the San Fernando Valley shouted "Go Nazis" and "Go Hitler" during a discussion of Holocaust literature.
- A Westside middle school student was taunted by another student and called "F---ing Jew" and "Jew-Burger."
- A high school student in the Conejo Valley told a Jewish student, "I saw your grandfather burning on Schindler's List."
- High school students in Los Angeles called their teacher a "Christ killer."
- A Westside Jewish high school student complained of being taunted by fellow students with anti-Semitic slurs including "Heil Hitler."
About the ADL Audit
The Audit identifies both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. Compiled using official crime statistics, as well as information provided to and evaluated by ADL's professional staff by victims, law enforcement officers and community leaders, the Audit provides an annual snapshot of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.
Anti-Semitic incidents included in the Audit include both criminal acts, such as vandalism, violence and threats of violence; and non-criminal incidents of harassment and intimidation, including hate propaganda leafleting and verbal slurs. For reporting purposes, the ADL Audit divides anti-Semitic incidents into two categories: Vandalism, such as property damage, cemetery desecration or anti-Semitic graffiti; and Harassment, including violent acts of anti-Semitism, and physical or verbal assaults directed at individuals and institutions.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.