Annual ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Incidents Decline in 2005 but Levels Still Of Concern In U.S.
New York, NY, April 5, 2006 … Despite a slight decline, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States remained at disturbing levels in 2005, according to newly issued statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, reported a total of 1,757 anti-Semitic incidents in 2005, a 3 percent decline from 2004.
"While any decline is encouraging, we remain concerned because too many people continue to act out their anti-Jewish hatred," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We have always said that America is different, that the Jewish communities here are fortunate to be largely immune from the kind of anti-Semitic violence experienced by some European Jewish communities. The numbers remain sobering because we know from painful experience that it only takes one incident of anti-Semitism to affect an entire community."
The number of anti-Jewish incidents spiked in 2004 at 1,821 – a nine-year high, according to ADL
Several trends continued to serve as a driving force behind the numbers in 2005. These included: Public activity by organized neo-Nazi and other hate groups; anti-Jewish harassment and intimidation in the schools; and anti-Semitic activity on the college campus.
The 2005 ADL Audit comprises data from 42 states and the District of Columbia, including 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 incidents of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate literature, threats and slurs.
Among the most serious incidents reported in 2005:
- An ambulance operated by Hatzolah, a Jewish volunteer emergency service squad in Queens, NY, was defaced with swastikas, a Hitler reference and "death to Jews" (March)
- A total of 64 headstones were toppled in two rural New Jersey Jewish cemeteries (June).
- Local teenagers vandalized and defecated in the synagogue of a rural New York resort bungalow colony, spray-painted religious books and pictures, drew swastikas on a table and elsewhere on the grounds, and set fire to a curtain over the Torah ark (August).
- In Swampscott, MA, three days before the start of the High Holidays, vandals defaced the inside of a synagogue with anti-Semitic graffiti (October).
- A school bus parked on a Phoenix, AZ synagogue's property was spray-painted with swastikas and anti-Semitic obscenities, including "F--- the Jews" (December).
- During the December holiday season, ADL confirmed nine separate incidents of vandalism involving public Hanukkah displays, including large menorahs in Philadelphia, PA; Holbrook, NY; New Windsor, NY; Santa Fe, NM; Orange County, CA; and Haverhill, MA that were damaged or defaced.
The Findings for 2005
Anti-Semitic incidents included in the Audit comprise physical and verbal assaults, harassment, property defacement, vandalism or other expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment. 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.
Continuing a longstanding trend, states with the most total incidents included New York (381, up from 350 in 2004); New Jersey (266, down from 297); California (247, up from 237); Florida (199, up from 173); Massachusetts (93, down from 128) and Connecticut (57, down from 81).
Examples of harassment incidents included:
- Vandalism: Acts of vandalism decreased by four percent to 617 incidents, compared to the 644 reported in 2004 (and also below the 628 reported in 2003). Examples of these incidents range from synagogue vandalism to swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti painted at schools, on private homes and public buildings.
- Harassment: Incidents of harassment decreased by 3 percent in 2005, with 1,140 incidents reported, compared with the 1,177 reported in 2004. As in 2004, harassment accounted for 65 percent of the total incidents reported in 2005.
- The neo-Nazi National Alliance distributed anti-Semitic and racist fliers in six communities in the Sacramento, CA area on the same night (February).
- Message left on an Edison, NJ synagogue answering machine stated, "Dirty f---ing kikes, you will all go down in flames" (March).
- The lettering on a sign board outside a Jewish community center in Dunwoody, GA was rearranged on two different occasions to read, in part, "Hitler is god," and "Adolf is a Jew god" (May and June).
- Proprietors of a Fair Lawn, NJ Jewish funeral home received a violently anti-Semitic phone call, including the statement, "I want to cremate all Jews" (October).
- The principal of a local Illinois school told the parent of a student that the Star of David worn by the parent was a sign of devil worship. When told that it was a Jewish symbol, the principal replied, "If you are a Jew, you should have been gassed with the rest of them" (October).
Anti-Jewish Expressions in the Schools
Another factor that again played a role in 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 2005, 13 percent of all incidents were school based – the same level reported in 2004. 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.
Some examples include:
- Swastikas and "kill the Jews" found painted on a Redding, CT high school wall (January).
- Students at a Northridge, CA grade school were heard making loud comments including, "Hitler was right," and "Burn the Jews" (March).
- Swastikas carved into classroom doors and other materials at a high school in Ardmore, PA (March).
- Obscenities including, "F--- the Jews" and swastikas scratched into playground equipment used by children on grounds of grade school in Hazlet Township, NJ (April).
- Note left for Staten Island, NY 8th grade teacher read, "Burn in hell, Jew bastard! Hitler Rocks." Swastikas also drawn on desks in classroom (April).
- At a Phoenix, AZ elementary school, a Jewish teacher's property was defaced with swastikas and a death threat (August).
- A teacher at a Los-Angeles area high school returned from the Yom Kippur holiday to find the windows of his classroom painted with swastikas (October).
Harassment by Hate Groups
In the eight states with the highest number of harassment reports, 112 of 871 incidents of harassment – 13 percent – were related to extremist group activity. Due to concerted activity by the neo-Nazi National Alliance early in the year in Montana, that rural state reported an unusually high number of incidents in 2005 (17 harassment, 11 vandalism). (The ADL Audit classifies leafleting reported by numerous recipients within the same neighborhood on the same day as a single incident.)
The continued high level of distribution of extremist fliers and other racist literature reflects ongoing "in-your-face" activity by various hate groups. At the same time, dissention and disarray in the ranks of the National Alliance led to a small decline in such leafleting as a percentage of all harassment incidents in 2005.
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 innumerable Internet messages are not generally counted as incidents of hate in the ADL Audit, specific threats aimed at Jewish synagogues and institutions via e-mail were counted.
Anti-Semitism on Campus
On campuses across the country, 98 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 2005, an increase of nearly one-third from the 74 incidents reported in 2004. Campus incidents peaked at 106 in 2002.
Some examples include:
- The Hunter College (NY) Palestinian Club posted a sign showing the Star of David morphing into a swastika, and reading: "History Repeats: Look What Hitler Taught Some of His Victims" (February).
- At the University of Colorado at Boulder, swastikas were carved into a residence hall bulletin board (March).
- Swastikas, "Jews" and other racist and extremist symbols carved into the freshly poured concrete at new construction on campus of Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey (April).
- Posters advertising a Chicago Friends of Israel event placed in the campus library of the University of Chicago were defaced with swastikas (May).
- Swastikas were found in a dormitory at the University of Oregon and an acidic substance was used to form swastikas on a table top in a campus café (October).
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.