2008 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents
On Evaluating Anti-Semitic Incidents
Posted: June 1, 2009
Overt and obvious expressions of anti-Jewish animosity are easiest to categorize as anti-Semitic incidents, and the vast majority of incidents in the Audit do reveal such 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 kippahs), are all clear evidence of anti- Semitism. More difficult to classify are situations in which, for example, a Jewish institution is vandalized without any specific anti-Semitic graffiti. For the purposes of this report, any deliberate and gratuitous destruction of a Jewish institution (such as broken windows or display cases), brings the act into the sphere of the Audit. Therefore, a stone thrown at a synagogue window, even without any markings of definitive anti-Semitic intent, is considered anti-Jewish hostility. While there may not be conclusive evidence to that effect, ADL tries to make reasonable judgments based on likelihood and probability.
- The Audit does not attempt to evaluate anti-Semitic websites, online groups, postings and comments. It does include anti-Semitic cyberbulling and harassing anti-Semitic email or postings when they target a specific private individual.
• ADL generally counts as anti-Semitic harassment the distribution of neo-Nazi and anti- Semitic materials to individual Jews, or the placing of such items on their property. This also holds true if the material is sent to a Jewish institution or posted in a public area.
• ADL does not generally include criticism of Israel in its Audit. However, where public expressions of anti-Israel sentiment become so extreme as to demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation for U.S. Jews, such incidents are included.
• A series of apparently related incidents, such as similar anti-Semitic graffiti painted on neighboring Jewish properties in one night, or a mass mailing of anti-Semitic material to many recipients in a particular neighborhood, counts as one incident, even though many people may be affected.
• ADL also receives complaints of anti- Semitism directed at non-Jews. Such anti-Semitic slurs, threats or vandalism "mistakenly" carried out against targets thought to be Jewish, or purposefully directed against non-Jews believed to be sympathetic to Jewish causes, are clearly signs of anti-Semitic behavior and are included in the Audit.
• Anonymously reported incidents represent an obstacle to maintaining the Audit's integrity. ADL seeks to corroborate reports of anti-Semitic activity to assure accuracy, and to respond effectively to such acts. While it is relatively easy to authenticate acts of vandalism against Jewish institutions or in public areas, verifying incidents of verbal harassment and slurs proves more challenging. Absent any additional follow-up information to support anti-Semitic intent, these reported incidents require further evaluation and may be omitted from the Audit.
• ADL does not include cases of alleged employment discrimination in hiring, firing or promotion, unless the situation includes evidence of overt anti-Semitism. A claim of discrimination in itself, based on inferences of anti-Semitism because of alleged unequal treatment in work assignments or denial of time off for holiday observance, is not considered an incident for the purposes of the Audit. Such claims involve a different kind of anti-Semitic problem which, while hurtful to the complainant, are nevertheless distinct from overt expressions of anti-Jewish hostility.
• Events which create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation to Jews, including neo-Nazi and white supremacist events, rallies, and speeches, are counted.