New York, NY, March 14, 2007
Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined for the second consecutive year in 2006, according to newly issued statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks incidents against Jewish individuals, synagogues and community institutions.
The League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, counted a total of 1,554 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States in 2006, representing a 12 percent decline from 1,757 reported in 2005.
The decline came in a year marked by several violent attacks, including the shooting at the Greater Seattle Jewish Federation in July by an Islamic extremist, in which staffer Pamela Waechter was killed and three others were seriously wounded. That attack and others underscored the continuing threat to Jewish community institutions, particularly at a time of heightened conflict in the Middle East. Tensions from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and last summer's war in southern Lebanon simmered over on to U.S. college campuses and into anti-war protests.
"While any decline in the number of incidents is encouraging, the fact that a Jewish community institution was targeted by a gunman was a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism in America is not just history, but a current event," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"The Audit is just one measure of anti-Semitism in the United States. There is also an onslaught of anti-Semitism out there in blogs, e-mails and Web sites and most significantly in conspiracy theories about alleged Jewish power which have even penetrated the mainstream that simply cannot be quantified."
Many factors influence the ADL Audit from year to year. While perceived unwavering Jewish support for Israel apparently fueled some of the reported incidents in 2006, other issues on the national landscape seemed to have a mitigating effect.
"While it is good that the numbers are going down, every anti-Semitic attack is one too many. It is disturbing that there are still an average of about four anti-Semitic attacks per day in America," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair.
"Greater security awareness at Jewish community institutions, where the installation of security cameras, round-the-clock surveillance, secure doors and other enhancements serve as a deterrent to vandalism and other acts of hate, may be having an impact on the numbers," added Mr. Lewy. "The situation in Israel and threat of terrorism at home have prompted many communities to revisit security and forge closer relationships with law enforcement. And law enforcement is more cognizant than ever of the potential threats facing Jewish community institutions."
The Findings for 2006
The 2006 ADL Audit comprises data from 44 states and the District of Columbia, including official crime statistics as well as information provided to ADL's regional offices by victims, law enforcement officers and community leaders. The Audit identifies 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 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:
Vandalism: There were 669 incidents of vandalism in 2006, 8 percent more than the 617 reported in 2005. Vandalism incidents comprised 43 percent of all incidents in 2006.
Harassment: A total of 885 incidents of harassment were reported in 2006, a decrease of 22 percent, compared with the 1,140 reported in 2005. Harassment accounted for 57 percent of the overall total.
Continuing a longtime trend, the states with the most incidents were New York (284, down from 381 in 2005); New Jersey (244, down from 266); California (204, down from 247); Florida (179, down from 199); Massachusetts (96, up from 93 in 2005; Pennsylvania, (94, down from 95 in 2005); and Connecticut (77, up from 57).
The following is a sampling of some of the more troubling incidents recorded across the country as part of the 2006 Audit.
Seattle, WA: One person was killed and five others wounded in a shooting at the Jewish Federation on July 28. Naveed Afzal Haq, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, surrendered to authorities minutes after the shooting began. The Federation's assistant director, Pamela Waechter, was killed. One of the injured women was five months pregnant. Haq allegedly forced his way through a security door by holding a gun to a 13-year-old girl's head and began firing after telling Federation staff members that he was "a Muslim-American" who was "angry at Israel" (July 28).
Phoenix, AZ: Two Jewish men severely beaten by at least six assailants using chains, brass knuckles and boots, and shouting anti-Semitic slurs (November).
Brooklyn, NY: Jewish woman on subway was assaulted by man who said, "Hitler should have killed all the Jews," and who then punched her as she tried to exit the train (September).
San Antonio, TX: Suspected arson at office of Holocaust History Project warehouse causing more than $1 million damage (March).
Chicago, IL: Swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti, including "Mein Kampf" and "Kill the Jews" spray-painted on synagogue windows (February).
Anaheim, CA: Synagogue doors spray-painted with swastikas and graffiti: "F--- Jews" and "Burn with the rest of them" (April).
North Miami Beach, FL: Two synagogues, a Jewish bookstore and a kosher market spray-painted with swastikas and "KKK"; graffiti, "U are next," scrawled across synagogues' outside walls.
CA, NY, TX: Hanukkah menorahs in eight separate public displays at various locations were smashed or vandalized (December).
Tampa, FL: A swastika was drawn on the faηade of a new synagogue under construction (June).
Seattle, WA: Synagogues and other Jewish community organizations received many anti-Semitic phone and e-mail messages following erroneous news reports that a rabbi had sought the removal of Christmas Trees at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (December).
Several ongoing factors remained part of the Audit picture in 2006. These included: Anti-Jewish harassment and intimidation in the schools; anti-Semitic activity on the college campus; and public activity by organized neo-Nazi and other hate groups.
Anti-Jewish Expressions in the Schools
A total of 193 anti-Semitic acts were reported at middle and high schools nationwide. In the eight states with the highest incident totals, 15 percent of all incidents were school based compared to 13 percent in 2005. These incidents took the form of swastikas and hate graffiti painted or written on desks, walls and other school property, as well as name-calling, slurs, mockery, bullying and assault.
Some examples of school-related incidents include:
Hollywood, FL: Middle school Jewish student had swastika and "Jew scum" written on his arm by another student; victim later received email containing the same slur (February).
North Haven, CT: Jewish special needs student was called a "F---ing Jew" and was also told he "should have died in the Holocaust" (April).
South Hamilton, MA: High school student faced anti-Semitic taunts from football teammates, including comments about Auschwitz and ovens; also, before the Jewish High Holidays he heard one of his coaches referring to the "stupid holiday this weekend" (September).
Boulder, CO: High school student found swastika and "Go back to Jerusalem, you filthy Jew" written on her locker; later the same day she found another swastika and the message, "Die!" (December).
Anti-Semitism on Campus
On campuses across the country, 88 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 2006, a decrease of 10 percent from the 98 incidents reported in 2005.
Some examples of 2006 campus anti-Semitic incidents include:
Ramapo College, NJ: Professor found swastikas and hate graffiti, "Die, Jew Bitch," written on her white-board (December).
State University of New York, Albany: Swastikas and "KKK" painted on walls near lecture center (December).
University of Northern Colorado: "F---ing Jews written on Jewish student's dormitory room door (October).
University of California, Berkeley: "Kike" was painted on Jewish fraternity house porch (February).
Harassment by Hate Groups
In 2006, there were a total of 77 incidents related to extremist group activity, compared to 112 in 2005 a significant decline possibly related to factional in-fighting among certain groups. The national discussion over illegal immigration energized some Klan and neo-Nazi groups, causing them to refocus much of their energies on targeting Hispanics as immigration rallies and protests took center stage across the nation, according to the ADL Audit.
"The national immigration debate caused extremist groups to partially refocus their energies away from their traditional objects of hate and onto other minority groups, particularly immigrants and Hispanics. One recent example of this is the surprising resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan," said Mr. Foxman. "So while we find any downward trend in the numbers on anti-Semitism encouraging, there is no cause to celebrate just yet."
Harassment in the form of leafleting and distribution of hate propaganda around neighborhoods and in public areas, as well as at rallies and via the Internet (including the posting of videos and other materials) were the main source of incidents by organized anti-Semitic groups reported in the Audit.
Hate groups actively contributed to the continued Internet circulation of anti-Jewish conspiracy charges related to 9/11, while maintaining their efforts to promote theories of Jewish control of government, finance and the media. Among the groups that showed disturbing growth in 2006 in addition to the KKK -- were the National Socialist Movement (NSM), which has become the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, and racist Skinheads.
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.