NEW YORK (JTA) – Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by 21 per cent in 2014, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of anti-Semitism.
The organization counted 912 anti-Semitic incidents last year, up from 751 in 2013, with the period surrounding last summer’s Gaza war seeing a surge of incidents. The tally included 36 cases of assault or other violence, 363 incidents of vandalism, and 513 cases of harassment, threats and events.
“2014 was a particularly violent year for Jews both overseas and in the United States,” Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, said in a statement. “Lethal anti-Semitism continues to pose a threat to American Jews and larger society as well.”
The count includes a wide variety of incidents, ranging from the shooting spree last April at a pair of Jewish institutions in Kansas that left three people dead to swastika graffiti, vandalized menorahs, personal spats involving anti-Semitic rants, offensive postings on social media and anti-Semitic letters to the editor.
“Anti-Jewish sentiment is increasing globally because of the oppressive behaviour of Jews in power and their crimes against humanity,” read one letter printed in the Riverdale Press in New York that was included in the ADL audit.
In the annual tally, which is compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, the states with the most anti-Semitic incidents correlated, as usual, with the states with the largest Jewish populations. New York led with 231 incidents, followed by California (184 incidents), New Jersey (107), Florida (70) and Pennsylvania (48). Massachusetts, which placed sixth, counted 47 incidents, one more than in 2013.
“Every act of anti-Semitism is one too many,” Evan Bernstein, ADL’s New York regional director, said in a statement. “We need to raise awareness of this troubling phenomenon, which is happening right here in our neighbourhoods across the city and state.”
Despite the year-over-year rise, the number of U.S. anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 was still one of the lowest totals recorded since the ADL began keeping records of them in 1979, the organization said. Certain kinds of attacks, however, are on the rise – notably attacks by hackers on community and synagogue websites.
During the war last summer between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled compared to the same period in 2013. The ADL said it does not count criticism of Israel or Zionism as anti-Semitic except when it crosses the line “from legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism by invoking classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies.”
Among the incidents that fell into that category was the defacing of a Lowell, Mass., synagogue with the slogans “Free Palestine” and “God Bless Gaza”; the scrawling of “Jews=Killers” and “Jews are Killing Innocent Children” near the entrance to a Jewish summer camp in Malibu, Calif.; and a conversation between a doctor and a Jewish patient in Boca Raton, Fla., in which the doctor said that the Jews killed Jesus and that current events were attributable to that crime.