For the third time in five years, the Anti-Defamation League has documented record-high cases of assault, harassment and vandalism targeting Jewish individuals, congregations and institutions.
“In 2022, ADL tabulated 3,697 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents tabulated in 2021 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979,” the organization said in its audit released March 22.
The audit follows reports ADL released earlier this year announcing rises in antisemitic propaganda and antisemitic attitudes.
“Jews remain the single most targeted religious minority in America.”
“Although a causal link between antisemitic attitudes and antisemitic activity has not been proven, it would not be surprising if some antisemites have become emboldened to act on their hatred in the current environment,” ADL said in its latest report. “This dramatic increase also occurs just as the FBI released its 2021 hate crimes data (a year behind this report) showing that Jews remain the single most targeted religious minority in America.”
What is known is that more people are acting out on antisemitic impulses. The watchdog group reported more cases occurred across all three of its major categories in 2022. Assaults spiked 26% to 111 incidents, harassment rose by 29% to 2,298 incidents, and vandalism increased by 51% to 1,288 incidents.
ADL said the increases cannot be attributed to a single ideology or cause and added that only four of the reported assaults involved the use of a deadly weapon.
“Significant surges in incidents include high-volume increases in organized white supremacist propaganda activity (102% increase to 852 incidents), K-12 schools (49% increase to 494 incidents) and college campuses (41% increase to 219 incidents), as well as deeply troubling percentage increases in attacks on Orthodox Jews (69% increase to 59 incidents) and bomb threats toward Jewish institutions (an increase from eight to 91 incidents).”
The audit found 241 incidents included references to Israel or Zionism, which is down from 345 in 2021 yet remains higher than the number recorded in 2020.
“Of 2022’s 241 anti-Zionist/anti-Israel-related incidents, 70 incidents could be identified as having been perpetrated by individuals associated with hostile anti-Zionist activist groups, most commonly Witness for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine and its affiliates,” the report says. “Forty-six incidents took the form of white supremacist groups’ efforts to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.”
Among all incidents, 589 occurred at synagogues and Jewish community centers and schools, representing a 12% increase over the previous year. Most of those occurrences were in the form of harassment, which ADL defines as cases in which Jewish people, or those thought to be Jewish, are attacked in writing or verbally through the use of stereotypes, slurs or conspiracy theories.
Numerous cases of harassment happened to Jewish people in non-Jewish settings, including schools, ADL reported. “The 257 incidents of harassment in K-12 schools represents a 44% increase from the 178 incidents of harassment in 2021. Of the 257 incidents of harassment, 102 incidents included an image of a swastika (such as a child drawing a swastika on a piece of paper and handing it to a Jewish classmate) and nine incidents incorporated references to Israel/Zionism.”
Incidents of vandalism included property damage with antisemitic motivation. “Swastikas, which are generally interpreted by Jews to be symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in 792 of these incidents, up 37% from last year. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 51% from 853 in 2021.”
While 107 of 111 cases of physical assault coupled with “antisemitic animus” occurred without the use of deadly weapons, threats of physical violence were up, ADL said. “In 2022, 91 bomb threats, which often included hateful, antisemitic language, were called into or emailed to Jewish institutions or schools. Three other non-Jewish institutions received bomb threats that included antisemitic language. … The last year in which we documented more than 20 bomb threats directed at Jewish institutions was 2017, when a single individual was likely responsible for more than 100 such threats.”
The audit provided numerous examples of assaults against Jews, including a gunman taking multiple hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022. “The standoff ended more than 10 hours later with all hostages released physically unharmed, and the perpetrator, identified as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, dead.”
Other cases included a Hassidic bus driver shot with a BB gun in Brooklyn, N.Y., a rock being thrown at a Jewish person outside a synagogue in Union City, N.J., and the slapping of a Jewish teen standing in front of the Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn.
ADL also described incidents of what it called “contact form harassment.”
“In what appeared to be a coordinated campaign, Jewish institutions received 20 threatening messages through the contact form on their websites. The threatening and harassing messages were all sent between September and November and featured similar language, including references to Zyklon B tablets (the name of the poison used by Nazi Germany to murder more than one million people, most of them Jews, in the death camps during the Holocaust).
The audit found antisemitic incidents occurred in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2022. The top five states were New York (580), California (518), New Jersey (408), Florida (269) and Texas (211).
ADL also tracked the time periods with the most cases. “Incidents in 2022 were highest in November (394), October (347) and May (345) and were lowest in August (223), April (255) and September (260). The previous highest month on record was May 2021 (387) which coincided with the military conflict between Israel and Hamas. This is the first year on record in which multiple months saw more than 300 incidents. There were eight such months in 2022.”
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