2009 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents
Posted: July 27, 2010
Anti-Semitic incidents remained at a sustained and troubling level in 2009. While overall incidents of traditional manifestations of anti-Semitism -- assaults, vandalism, and harassment -- declined, the long-term, ongoing explosion of online anti-Semitism cemented 2009 as one of the most serious years of anti-Semitic activity in a generation.
The Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidenrts recorded 1,211 anti-Semitic incidents in 2009. These included:
- 29 physical assaults on Jewish individuals;
- 760 cases of anti-Semitic harassment, threats and events;
- 422 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism.
The 2009 Audit comprises data from 46 states and the District of Columbia, including official crime statistics as well as information provided to ADL's regional offices by victims, law enforcement offices and community leaders and members.
The Audit encompasses criminal acts, such as vandalism, violence, and threats of violence, as well as non-criminal incidents of harassment and intimidation. The latter is comprised primarily of hate propaganda, leafleting and verbal slurs.
For the first time in the more than three decades ADL has tracked and reported on anti-Semitic incidents, the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents was significantly revamped to improve reporting methods and update some evaluation criteria. At the same time, a new technology platform was developed that enabled the League's 30 regional offices to record and track incidents with even greater speed and accuracy.
As a result, the 2009 total of 1,211 incidents does not include some incidents that would have been categorized as anti-Semitic under the previous Audit system. In 2008 -- prior to the adoption of enhanced reporting methods -- the League recorded a total of 1,352 incidents. The decline of 10 percent between the 2008 and 2009 figures is not inclusive of incidents that would have been counted under the previous methodology.
The 2009 Audit takes a more conservative approach to counting graffiti. The new approach recognizes that the Nazi swastika is no longer exclusively used as a hate symbol against Jews; rather, it appears today in vandalism incidents against African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities and is sometimes used by juveniles who are not necessarily targeting Jews but just using it for its shock value. Therefore, ADL is making a more detailed analysis of each swastika vandalism incident before including it in the Audit. Other modifications include increased standardization of reporting, and verification of incidents prior to inclusion in the Audit.
In addition to a new technology platform and stricter standards, ADL made an important choice in connection with this year's Audit in particular: the 2009 Audit does not include the well over 2,000 anti-Semitic faxes sent to Jewish community institutions by the virulently anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church. These faxes caused great distress among recipients and, had they been counted, the 2009 Audit's harassment totals would have significantly increased.
The Audit has never included, and does not now include, thousands of anti-Semitic events that occurred in cyberspace. This decision was made because anti-Semitism in cyberspace, a matter of great concern to ADL, is virtually impossible to quantify. However, while we do not quantify online hate, ADL does receive reports from community members who have seen anti-Semitic content online, and these complaints came in at a substantially increased pace in 2009.
While the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents does not typically include expressions of opposition to Zionism or Israel, it does include them if they are accompanied by the invocation of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as Nazi imagery or analogies, or references that delegitimize, demonize or reflect a double standard about Israel.