ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Incidents At Highest Level in Nine Years
New York, NY, April 4, 2005 … Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States have reached their highest level in nine years, according to newly released statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, reported a total of 1,821 anti-Semitic incidents in 2004, an increase of 17 percent over the 1,557 incidents reported during 2003.
Among the factors contributing to the increase, according to the Audit, were stepped up activity by organized neo-Nazi hate groups and a spike in reports of anti-Jewish harassment and intimidation in America's schools.
"We had hoped that the trend of the past few years would continue; that acts of anti-Semitism would decline or at least remain static," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The increase shows that there are still too many who feel emboldened to act out their anti-Jewish animus. It is extremely disturbing that young children in school are being confronted with in-your-face anti-Semitism. We had long thought that that was a thing of the past, but obviously we were wrong."
Anti-Semitic incidents included in the Audit comprise physical and verbal assaults, harassment, property defacement, vandalism or other expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment. The 2004 ADL Audit comprises data from 44 states and the District of Columbia, and is 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 identifies both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs.
Among the most serious incidents reported in 2004:
• Arsonists damaged the entrance to a local Jewish cemetery in West Roxbury, MA (February).
• Windows of a Jewish day school in North Miami were coated with feces (May).
• A rash of vandalism targeting a synagogue in Eureka, CA, including anti-Semitic graffiti, broken furniture and objects thrown against a door during religious services for young children (December).
• Swastikas, "Death to Jews" and other graffiti written on Houston synagogue (December).
• Members of a hate group harassed patrons at a Connecticut mall, raising Nazi salutes (July).
• An apartment complex in Ft. Lauderdale was targeted with anti-Semitic and racist leaflets "celebrating" Hitler's birthday (April).
"At a time when anti-Semitism is at a high in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada and other countries, it is disturbing to see that it is increasing in America as well," said Mr. Foxman. "While most of the incidents in the U.S. are less violent than those experienced recently by the Jewish communities of Europe, it is troubling that so many people in this country feel a need to act out their anti-Jewish animus in ways large and small. Just one act of anti-Semitism can deeply affect an entire community. Sadly, in an America where Jews enjoy a level of safety and freedom unparalleled in history, we still experience anti-Semitism at an average rate of nearly five incidents per day."
The 2004 Findings
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 threats and assaults directed at individuals and institutions.
• Harassment: Incidents of harassment increased by 27 percent, with 1,177 incidents reported in 2004, compared with the 929 reported in 2003. Harassment accounted for 65 percent of the total incidents reported in 2004.
• Vandalism: After reaching historic lows in 2002, the number of incidents of vandalism against Jewish community institutions, synagogues and property continued an upward trend in 2004. Acts of vandalism increased to 644 incidents, compared to the 628 reported in 2003.
Continuing a longstanding trend, states with the most total incidents included New York (350, down from 364 in 2003); New Jersey (297, up from 209); California (237, up from 180); Florida (173, up from 102); Massachusetts (128, up from 102) and Connecticut (81, up from 70).
Harassment By Hate Groups
A heightened level of distribution of extremist fliers and other racist literature reflects intensified, public "in-your-face" activity by the neo-Nazi National Alliance, various KKK factions, White Revolution, White Aryan Resistance, and David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). ADL offices reported many such leafleting incidents, far more than in previous years. National Alliance activity in particular was by far the most prevalent in this regard in 2004.
Altogether, in the eight states with the highest number of harassment reports, 128 of 859 incidents of harassment (15 percent) were related to extremist group propaganda activity. Of the 37 incidents of all kinds recorded in the states of the Pacific Northwest in 2004, 17 resulted from activity by far-right extremist groups, several of which are based in that area. (Leafleting reported by numerous recipients within the same neighborhood on the same day is classified as a single incident.)
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.
"While the far-right extremist groups have suffered setbacks in the past few years, including infighting and the death of prominent leaders such as the National Alliance's William Pierce, these groups are still very successful at getting out their message and mobilizing their grassroots," said Mr. Foxman. "The proliferation of hate on the Internet has helped to facilitate the spread of extremist propaganda, for anyone can download hate material, print copies and canvass an entire neighborhood."
Anti-Jewish Expressions in the Schools
Another factor that played a role in the rise of both harassment and vandalism incidents was a high number of anti-Semitic acts reported at middle and high schools. In the eight states with the highest overall totals of anti-Semitic acts in 2004, 13 percent of all incidents were school based. These incidents took the form of swastikas painted or written on desks, walls and other school property, as well as anti-Jewish name-calling, slurs, mockery and bullying.
"We are especially disturbed that school children are engaging in anti-Semitic slurs and mockery, and that swastikas and references to Hitler and Nazis are appearing on school grounds with alarming frequency," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair. "Whether these acts reflect a lack of education or exposure to stereotypes in the home, or insensitive misuse of Holocaust imagery in the wider culture, it shows that there is a great need for anti-bias education among young people."
Examples from schools include:
• An eighth-grade student in South River, New Jersey, placed a note in a Jewish teacher's school mailbox reading, "Hitler should have killed all you (expletive) Jews a long time ago (January).
• At a basketball game in Manhattan, New York City between private high school teams, student spectators yelled anti-Semitic slurs at Jewish players on the opposing team (January).
• Swastikas and "F – the Jews" scrawled on walls of middle school bathrooms in North Brunswick, NJ (February).
• In Marin County, CA, a middle school student told a Jewish fellow student that the Anne Frank story was a lie, and said: "Are you a Jew? They should stick you in a concentration camp" (April).
• Middle School student in Boca Raton, FL found a swastika and "Die Jews die" written in a school textbook (April).
• A child was sent to an elementary school's Halloween parade in Miami Beach dressed as Adolf Hitler (October).
Anti-Semitism On Campus
Campus incidents increased marginally, to 74 incidents, from 68 in 2003, still substantially less than the 106 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2002. In the three year period from 2000 to 2002, campus incidents had increased by more than 50 percent. By 2003, more effective counteraction and educational efforts by students and faculty helped to reduce the number of virulently anti-Semitic activities that have crossed over the line into harassment of Jewish students and other anti-Semitic phenomena in recent years.
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.