Antisemitic incidents in US reached record high last year with 34% increase, civil rights group says

The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking incidents of antisemitism since 1979

Abe Asher
Tuesday 26 April 2022 23:07 BST
Philanthropy Jewish Federations
Philanthropy Jewish Federations (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) count of antisemitic incidents in the United States reached a record high last year, increasing by 34 per cent to a total of 2,717 incidents of harassment, vandalism or assault.

The majority of the incidents catalogued by the ADL were of harassment. Swastikas were present in the majority of the more than 850 cases of vandalism, while the 88 assaults — which did not result in any fatalities — marked a 167 per cent increase over 2020.

According to the report, antisemitic incidents in 2021 spiked in May as Israel and Hamas were engaged in a military conflict stemming from the attempted forced eviction of a longstanding Palestinian community in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Hundreds of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip were killed and thousands more injured, including a significant number of civilians. At least 13 Israelis died.

The conflict, the biggest military conflict in the region in years, drew international attention and prompted pro-Palestinian demonstrations in cities across the United States that accused Israel of a disproportionate response to Hamas violence and its bombing of civilian areas in Gaza.

Jewish Americans responded to the conflict in a number of different ways, but, according to the ADL, faced elevated levels of antisemitism regardless. Antisemitic incidents increased by 46 per cent over the final 20 days of May even without incidents clearly tied to anti-Israel sentiment.

The ADL includes incidents that include anti-Israel or anti-Zionist sentiment if they also express include “classic anti-Jewish animus” or “demonize Jews as a group for real or perceived support of Israel.” It does not categorise criticism of Israel or Zionism in itself as antisemitism.

The highest number of antisemitic incidents occurred in New York, New Jersey and California, with Florida, Michigan and Texas following behind. Those six states combined for 58 per cent of the total number of antisemitic incidents last year, though incidents were recorded in each US state.

The number of antisemitic incidents in the US spiked in 2017 following the election of Donald Trump as president, and has remained at an elevated level since.

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