Swastika Symbol of Choice for Anti-Semites
Update: (March 19, 2008): The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has been updated to include an additional 103 incidents from New Jersey.
The new total for anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2007 is 1,460, representing a six percent (6%) decline from the 1,554 incidents reported in 2006.
The revised number of total incidents of vandalism is 699. The new total for incidents of harassment is 761.
The new national total for public school incidents is 227, and the new national total for campus incidents is 94.
More information on how this change affects the numbers is available here.
New York, NY, March 5, 2008 … The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined for the third consecutive year, according to newly issued statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, counted a total of 1,357 incidents of vandalism, harassment and other acts of hate against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions in 2007, representing a 13 percent decline from the 1,554 incidents reported in 2006.
The swastika was predominant in a large number of incidents and remained the symbol of choice for anti-Semites, according to the ADL Audit. The Nazi symbol, one of the most powerful and enduring emblems of religious and ethnic hatred, was present in hundreds of attacks against buildings, synagogues, cemeteries and private homes. In one of the most noteworthy instances, a massive swastika the size of a football field was carved into a New Jersey cornfield.
"We are certainly encouraged that the total number of anti-Semitic incidents has declined for three years in a row," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Yet we are still troubled that there are so many incidents reported, and that these incidents often involve expressions of anti-Jewish animus that are ugly and deeply hurtful to their victims and the communities where they occur.
"Just as the noose became a common calling card for racists in 2007, the swastika was the emblem of choice for anti-Semites," said Mr. Foxman. "It is a symbol that is instantly recognizable and whose meaning and intent is explicitly clear. For Jews, especially survivors of the Holocaust and their families, the swastika is a terrifying reminder of the consequences of unchecked hate and the resilience of anti-Semitism in its most lethal forms."
Anti-Semitic acts last crested in the U.S. in 2004, when 1,821 incidents were reported, according to the ADL Audit. In 2005, the total number of incidents decreased to 1,757 incidents.
"While the downward trend in numbers of incidents is clearly welcome, and may reflect some degree of success of security programs and preventive countermeasures, it does not mean that we should become complacent," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair. "We continue to work diligently with communities and law enforcement, so that the message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable is clearly understood by anti-Semites."
The 2007 Audit comprises data from 40 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 criminal acts, such as vandalism, violence and threats of violence, as well as 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 physical or verbal assaults directed at individuals or institutions:
- Vandalism: There were 612 incidents of vandalism in 2007, eight percent (8%) less than the 669 reported in 2006. While such incidents comprised 45 percent of all incidents reported in 2007, there was a decrease in reported vandalisms and threats against synagogues: going from 84 in 2006, to 61 in 2007.
- Harassment: A total of 745 incidents of harassment were reported in 2007, a decrease of 16 percent, compared with the 855 reported in 2006. Harassment accounted for 55 percent of the total incidents reported.
Continuing a longtime trend, the states with the highest totals were New York, (351, up from 284 in 2006); New Jersey (247, up from 244); California (186, down from 204); Florida (127, down from 179); Massachusetts (95, down from 96 in 2006); Pennsylvania (99, up from 94 in 2006); and Connecticut (49, down from 77).
The following are selected incidents of vandalism and harassment reported to ADL in 2007:
Vandalism: Selected Incidents in 2007
- Queens, NY: Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted on cars, bus shelters and mailboxes near local synagogue (March);
- Berkeley, CA: Message threatening an "attack" left on synagogue voicemail by caller identifying himself as affiliated with Aryan Brotherhood; caller also praised "the glorious Holocaust" (April);
- Chicago: At least 70 headstones and five benches overturned and swastika etched onto mausoleum at Jewish cemetery (May);
- Victoria, TX: Swastikas and "Heil Hitler" painted on front of synagogue (June);
- Bronx, NY: Synagogue vandalized on three occasions over several weeks; 17 windows broken (July);
- Cincinnati OH: Anti-Semitic literature from National Socialist Movement distributed to homes on several streets during Jewish High Holiday period (September);
- Collingdale, PA: Tombstones in Jewish cemetery defaced with swastikas and profanity (November).
Harassment: Selected Incidents in 2007
- Sherman Oaks, CA: An employee was told by a co-worker, "Get off your lazy Jewish ass or I'll get you fired," and was called a "Jewish dog" (January);
- Palm Beach, FL: A couple who moved into a new home were told by a neighbor, "You people are Jew bastards"; perpetrator sprayed insecticide in victim's face (January);
- Nashville, TN: Cab driver got into argument over religion, made anti-Semitic comments and praised Hitler's actions against Jews, and later injured passenger with cab when he exited the vehicle (February);
- Hamilton, NJ: While stopped at a service station for gas, victim was verbally threatened by 3 individuals in a nearby vehicle who rolled down their window and yelled "F--- you, Jew" and then got out of their car and approached him and cursed at him (February);
- Brooklyn, NY: Two Jewish men walking were accosted by three men in a car who pulled over and screamed, "You better run or I'll kill you, dirty Jew" (March);
- Long Island, NY: A woman was sitting in a restaurant with her two children when another woman approached her and said, "Jews are disgusting. More should have died in the Holocaust" (June);
- Chicago, IL: An employee was called "Jehudi," a "typical Jew" and a "f---ing Jew" by his supervisor (September);
•Kankakee, IN: A middle school student was hit in the head by another student who asked her where her "Jew cap" was (October);
- Lakewood, NJ: An identifiably Jewish teenager suffered serious injuries when he was severely beaten by several men and youths who yelled "F---ing Jew" as they attacked him (November);
- New York, NY: Four students from Hunter and Baruch Colleges were assaulted on a subway train by a group of four or five assailants as they wished people a happy Hanukkah. At least two victims were punched in the face, and a knife was pulled. Police arrested the assailants after the train was stopped (December).
Anti-Jewish Harassment in Schools
A total of 197 anti-Semitic acts were reported at middle and high schools nationwide, compared to the 193 reported in 2006.
In the seven states with the highest incident totals, 14 percent of all incidents were school based, according to the Audit. These incidents took the form of swastikas and hate graffiti painted or written on desks, walls and other school property, name-calling, slurs, mockery, bullying and assaults, with some directed at teachers, as well as at Jewish students.
Cyberbullying also became an increasing concern in the schools. In an effort to address the problem, ADL unveiled a new program to educate students and teachers about how to confront hateful messages sent via cell phones, text messaging and e-mail.
Some examples in schools include:
- Babylon, Long Island (NY): Swastikas drawn on exterior of local high school (March);
- Burbank, CA: High school teacher found "F--- Jews" written on classroom blackboard and on overhead projector (May);
- Wheaton, IL: Jewish student at local high school found note in his locker with swastikas, profanity and the statement: "The Jews killed Christ and we're going to kill you." (May);
- Old Bridge Twp., NJ: Swastika and "Kill the Jews" written in chalk outside door of local school (June);
- Bloomfield, CT: Anti-Semitic hate mail sent to four teachers (September);
- Santa Barbara, CA: Middle school students drew a swastika on Jewish student's arm and directed anti-Semitic remarks to him (September);
- Gulfport, FL: Jewish teacher found swastikas and "Jews will die soon" on one of the papers collected from students in his class (October);
- Phoenix, AZ: Swastikas and racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay graffiti painted with markers on elementary school; walls and classroom doors also damaged (November).
Harassment by Hate Groups
In 2007, there were a total of 43 incidents related to extremist group activity reported to ADL, compared to 77 in 2006 (down by 44%) and 112 in 2005. Harassment in the form of leafleting and distribution of hate propaganda around neighborhoods and rallies in public areas were the main source of anti-Semitic incidents by organized hate groups reported in the Audit.
The decrease was in large part due to a substantial reduction in the number of reported incidents of anti-Semitic leafleting.
"While it is difficult to pinpoint one specific cause for the decrease in anti-Semitic leafleting, we do know that anti-Semitic groups are relying more and more on the Internet to spread propaganda and share ideas, and this may be having an impact as an alternative outlet for anti-Semitic views," said Mr. Foxman.
Hate groups continue to utilize the Internet to spread their message of hate. Groups such as the National Socialist Movement and Ku Klux Klan actively contributed to the continued Internet circulation of anti-Jewish conspiracy charges and theories of Jewish control of government, finance and the media.
There are literally thousands of hate sites found on the Internet, and these continued to multiply in 2007. Many of these sites include Internet radio shows and downloadable music and games with anti-Semitic themes and propaganda. Extremists also continued to exploit social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and You Tube and blogs, using text messages and videos to propagate anti-Semitism. The ADL Audit does not count incidents occurring in cyberspace, as such expressions are extremely difficult to quantify.
Anti-Semitism on the College Campus
There were 81 anti-Jewish incidents reported on campuses across the country in 2007, down from the 88 reported in 2006 (98 incidents were reported in 2005.)
Examples of 2007 campus anti-Semitic incidents include:
- Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY: Swastikas and obscene anti-Semitic graffiti found in several locations (February);
- Rutgers, New Brunswick, NJ: Student found swastikas, "SS" symbol, and "I love Nazis" and other hate graffiti on her dormitory room door (February);
- Yale University., New Haven, CT: Jewish fraternity house vandalized with graffiti including "kike" and caricature of a Jew, captioned "rabbi zone." (April);
- Penn State, State College, PA: Swastika spray painted on Jewish fraternity house (April);
- Einstein School of Medicine, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY: Swastikas scratched onto five cars in parking lot of (April);
- University of California, Irvine: University's legal counsel received anti-Semitic hate mail (April and November).
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.