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Press ReleaseAnti-Semitism: USA
ADL Releases New Figures on Anti-Semitic Incidents: More Than 1,500 Acts Reported Across U.S. in 2002. Campus Figures Up 24 Percent

New York, NY, March 26, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) remains "deeply concerned" at the number and frequency of anti-Semitic acts reported in 2002 across the United States. According to the annual ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, a total of 1,559 anti-Jewish incidents were reported against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2002, a slight increase from the 1,432 incidents in 2001. At the same time, anti-Jewish incidents reported on campus were up by 24 percent in 2002.

Graph: ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, 1982 -2002 (National)

ADL's Audit serves as one barometer for anti-Semitism in the U.S. It is compiled annually using data gathered by the League's 30 Regional Offices and law enforcement.

"We are deeply concerned that despite the strides we have made over the years, anti-Semitic incidents continue to be carried out in large numbers," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While we can take comfort that this year's numbers have not increased substantially, it is unsettling that we are still experiencing anti-Semitism at an average rate of four incidents per day. It demonstrates there is a real need for continuing education and outreach."

Anti-Semitic incidents included in the Audit comprise physical and verbal assaults, harassment, property defacement and vandalism, hateful e-mail messages and other expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment. Among the most serious incidents reported in 2002 were three arsons, three attempted arsons, one attempted bombing, six bomb threats and seven cemetery desecrations.

The Findings

In 2002, a total of 1,559 incidents were reported in 41 states and the District of Columbia. That figure was up more than eight percent (8%) from the 1,432 incidents reported in 2001. More than two-thirds of the incidents reported comprised acts of harassment, including intimidation, threats and assaults.

For reporting purposes, the ADL Audit divides anti-Semitic incidents into two categories: Harassment, including threats and assaults directed at individuals and institutions; and Vandalism, such as property damage, cemetery desecration or anti-Semitic graffiti. In 2002:

  • Harassment accounted for two-thirds of all incidents reported. Anti-Semitic activity reported in 2002 comprised 1,028 acts of harassment, a 17 percent increase over 2001. The rise in the number of harassment incidents may reflect that those inclined toward anti-Jewish hostility are resorting to forums such as Internet chat rooms, bulletin boards and e-mail in greater numbers.

  • Vandalism against Jewish community institutions, synagogues and property remained at historic lows. ADL counted 531 reports of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2002, a four percent (4%) decrease from 2001 and marking a 20-year low. Over the past three years, the number of vandalism incidents reported annually to ADL has declined by 27 percent.

"With the ongoing threat of terrorism, synagogues and Jewish institutions in the U.S. have by and large followed ADL's recommendations for making security awareness an everyday concern," Mr. Foxman said. "That, plus the increased presence of law enforcement working with communities to prevent attacks, has worked as a deterrent against anti-Semitic attacks. On the other hand, vandalism incidents are still a major concern. And we are also concerned that anti-Semites and bigots are finding other outlets for spreading hate, especially on the Internet, where they can enjoy virtual anonymity."
    Among the more violent attacks in 2002:
  • In Oakland, California, a synagogue sustained thousands of dollars in damage in an arson incident.
  • In Nashville, Tennessee, police arrested a man who was seen aiming a gun at a synagogue; a later search of his home turned up a large cache of weapons and anti-Semitic hate literature from the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, more than 120 gravestones were overturned in three separate attacks on the Hebrew Cemetery of Auburn.
The states showing the largest numbers of reported incidents in 2002 were New York: 302 (down from 408 in 2001); California: 223 (up from 122 in 2001); New Jersey: 171 (down from 192); Massachusetts: 129 (up from 126); Pennsylvania: 101 (up from 61); and Florida: 93 (down from 115).

Anti-Semitism on Campus

Anti-Semitic incidents on campus increased for the third straight year to a total of 106 incidents, an increase by 24 percent over 2001, when 85 acts were reported. Many of the 2002 incidents grew out of anti-Israel or "anti-Zionist" demonstrations or other actions in which some participants engaged in overt expression of anti-Jewish sentiments, including name-calling directed at Jewish students, placards comparing the Star of David to the swastika, or vandalism of Jewish property, such as Hillel buildings. Anti-Israel rallies were not included as incidents in the Audit unless there was an overt manifestation of anti-Semitism during the event.

One of the most troubling episodes took place at the University of Colorado, where Jewish students were confronted by an angry, threatening crowd yelling "Nazis!" and other epithets as they held a peace vigil in September. In the ensuing weeks, "Jews rot in Hell" was spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house, and a Sukkah was defaced with a swastika.

Hate on the Internet

The Internet continued to play a substantial role in the dissemination of anti-Semitism, with hate literature being transmitted through hundreds of sites on the Web and through bulletin boards, chat rooms and e-mail messages. While Internet messages are not generally categorized as incidents of hate in the ADL Audit, specific threats aimed at Jewish synagogues and institutions via e-mail were counted. Still, it is virtually impossible to quantify the number of anti-Semitic messages online.

Web sites operated by anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers are easily found on the Internet and provide haters with the ability to reach a potential audience of millions with literature and recruitment materials. These sites also can serve as an impetus for anti-Semitic incidents; for instance, anti-Semitic fliers can be downloaded from Web site and distributed by anyone with a computer and printer.

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 ADL's 30 regional offices 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.

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.

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Contact Information
Press Inquiries
States with Anti Semitic Incidents
State Number
AR 6
AK 3
AZ 13
CA 223
CO 35
CT 41
DC 15
DE 3
FL 93
GA 46
HI 1
ID 1
IL 48
IN 3
KS 1
KY 5
LA 3
MA 129
MD 28
ME 1
MI 24
MN 4
MO 5
NC 10
NE 1
NH 8
NJ 171
NM 16
NV 27
NY 302
OH 24
OR 6
PA 101
RI 6
SC 7
TN 10
TX 21
VA 37
VT 1
WI 23
WV 2
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