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Anti-Semitic Incidents Decline for Fourth Straight Year in U.S., According to Annual ADL Audit

Jews #1 Religion Group Targeted for Hate

New York, NY, June 1, 2009 … The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined for the fourth 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 1,352 incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions in 2008, representing a 7 percent decline from the 1,460 incidents reported in 2007.

The Audit identified 37 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 702 incidences of anti-Semitic vandalism, and 613 cases of harassment in 2008.  They included acts against high-profile Jewish community institutions and communal properties, such as the repeated vandalism of the San Francisco Holocaust Memorial, and the desecration of dozens of graves at a Jewish cemetery in Chicago with swastikas and hate group symbols.

Of the total 1,352 incidents, 42 percent occurred at homes, private buildings or businesses, and 23 percent took place in educational establishments, including public and private schools and universities, according to the Audit.

"It is encouraging that the number of anti-Semitic incidents continues to decline, but the sheer volume of incidents reported and the violent nature of many of the physical assaults is a reminder that we cannot be complacent," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "Had law enforcement not thwarted the alleged terrorist bombing plot against synagogues in Riverdale, New York, it would have been a horrific anti-Semitic attack."

The 2008 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 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.

"The Audit is one barometer of anti-Semitism," said Mr. Foxman.  "The explosive expansion of the Internet and social-networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube has become a new frontier for anti-Semitism, and so anti-Jewish expression is hard to quantify in this environment.  It's here today, gone tomorrow, and back the next day.

"In 2008, the financial crisis brought about an increase in rhetoric targeting Jews, with letters in newspapers and on Web sites blaming Jews for the misdeeds of a select few, with Bernard Madoff topping the list," added Mr. Foxman.  "Hate groups and anti-Semites used the global economic downturn to breathe new life into old myths of greedy and money-hungry American Jews, and these took on a life of their own on the Internet and in the real world."

Anti-Semitic incidents last peaked in 2004, when the League reported 1,821 incidents in the U.S.

For reporting purposes, the Audit divides anti-Semitic incidents into three categories: Anti-Semitic Assaults, involving violence against Jewish individuals or those thought to be Jewish; Vandalism, such as property damage, cemetery desecration or anti-Semitic graffiti; and Harassment, including threats, slurs and activity by anti-Semitic hate groups:

• Assaults: A total of 37 anti-Semitic assaults were reported in 2008.  The assaults included attacks with baseball bats and other weapons, punching and rock-throwing.  In some cases, victims were hospitalized.

• Vandalism:  There were 702 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism reported in 2008, up from 612 cases in 2007. 

• Harassment: A total of 613 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment were reported in 2008.  (In 2007, the categories of assaults and harassment were combined for reporting purposes, for a total of 761 incidents.  In 2008, the combined total of assaults and harassment was 650).

"The bad news is Jews continue to be the number one religion group targeted for hate," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair.  "The good news is there's a greater awareness within local Jewish communities that the potential for anti-Semitic activity should always be a concern. Communities have responded with heightened security and by partnering with law enforcement in an attempt to mitigate the threat."

Continuing a longtime trend, the states with the highest totals were those with large Jewish populations. 
The top four states accounted for 59 percent of the anti-Semitic incidents recorded by ADL. 

The states with the highest totals were New Jersey (238, down from 247); California (226, up from 186); New York (207, down from 351); Florida (122, down from 127); Pennsylvania (97, down from 99); Massachusetts (52, down from 95); and Connecticut (38, down from 49).

The following are selected incidents of assaults, vandalism and harassment reported to ADL in 2008.

Assaults: Selected Incidents in 2008

• Suburban Philadelphia, PA: A Jewish student was struck with a baseball bat by a group of students, one of whom described himself as "Hitler, coming to kill all the Jews (January).
• Los Angeles, CA: A Jewish man was attacked by three assailants, who made anti-Semitic comments and robbed him (March).
• Jackson, NJ: A Hassidic Jew was punched in the face by a teen, while another teen took photos of the attack on his cell phone camera.  The perpetrators were apprehended by police and admitted that they had targeted the victim because he was Jewish (May).
• Brooklyn, NY:  Two Jewish men were assaulted in a public park by a group of attackers who made anti-Semitic comments, including, "Hitler is going to kill you all" (May).
• Kiamesha Lake, NY: Four Jewish men were assaulted by a group of attackers in a parking lot (August).
• Ft. Benning, GA: A Jewish soldier was the subject of anti-Semitic harassment and was beaten (September).
• New Haven, CT: A group of Jewish boys were pelted with rocks as the walked on the Sabbath (September).
• Prescott, AZ: A Jewish student was beaten up by a schoolmate after being asked if he was Jewish (September).
• Chicago, IL: A Molotov cocktail was hurled at a synagogue, which was not significantly damaged (December).

More>>

Vandalism: Selected Incidents in 2008

• San Francisco, CA: The San Francisco Holocaust Memorial was vandalized on two occasions in 2008.  In the second incident, vandals defaced the memorial with "Israel, their blood is on your hands" in red spay-paint (January and December).
• New Brunswick, NJ:  Nearly 500 gravestones were overturned in a Jewish cemetery (January).
• Norridge, IL: Fifty-seven graves in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with neo-Nazi graffiti and Stars of David hanging from gallows (January).
• Brooklyn, NY: A swastika and anti-Semitic graffiti were spray-painted on a yeshiva school bus (February).
• Queens, NY:  Eleven tombstones were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti (February).
• Los Angeles, CA: Swastikas and neo-Nazi phrases were spray-painted on the gate of a Jewish school (March).
• Vashon Island, WA: A synagogue was broken into and defaced with graffiti reading "God hates Jews" (July).
• Washington, DC: A synagogue was vandalized, its floodlights smashed and an Israeli flag burned (July).
• Clearwater, FL: A public menorah was defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic language (December).

More>>

Anti-Semitic Harassment: Selected Incidents in 2008

• San Antonio, TX: A man walking to a synagogue was harassed by a group of teens who said," We hate you, Jew" and "We're going to kill you, Jew." (February).
• San Francisco, CA:  A Jewish high school student was harassed on a school bus by classmates who called him "Kike" and threw pennies at him (March).
• Fair Lawn, NJ: A victim's Facebook "wall" was defaced with a long anti-Semitic message, including, "U Jew I'm gonna fry U in my oven…" (March).
• Frontenac, MS: The neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement protested outside a Jewish film festival (June).
• Meredith, NH:  A Jewish student was bullied by a classmate who called him "filthy Jew" and threaten to "shove him into a crematorium (June).
• Cleveland, OH:  A Jewish individual was harassed by a co-worker who displayed Nazi symbols and expressed admiration for the Waffen SS (July).
• Sterling, IL: A Jewish student was harassed by classmates, who said "Why don't you jump in the oven like all the other Jews did?" and "If I had it my way I would kill you and all the other Jews (October).
• Erdenheim, PA: A Jewish person was harassed by a person who told her that Jews were responsible for the Wall Street meltdown and that "we've known since the beginning of time that the Jews are the problem" (November).
• Ft. Lauderdale, FL: A woman at an anti-Israel rally shouted at pro-Israel counter-protestors, "Go back to the ovens, you all need one big oven" (December).
• Brooklyn, NY: A Jewish family found a death-threat taped to their door. The note referred to their being Jewish (December).
Incidents on Campus
 There were 85 anti-Jewish incidents reported on campuses across the country in 2008, up from the 81 reported in 2007.
 Examples of 2008 campus anti-Semitic incidents include:
• Baylor University, Waco, TX: Swastikas were drawn near the dorm room of a student who had recently converted to Judaism (February).
• University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND: A student was harassed by fellow students with anti-Semitic slurs and was shot at with a pellet gun (April).
• University of California at Santa Cruz: A building was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti alleging that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks (April).
• University of Oregon, Eugene, OR:  Holocaust denier David Irving addressed students at an event sponsored by the Pacifica Forum (June).
• Saint Xavier University, Chicago, IL: A neo-Nazi group demonstrated outside a building where Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was lecturing (September).
• Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ: Anti-Semitic graffiti was found on campus (October).

More>>

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.


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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