ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents at US colleges doubled in 2015
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ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents at US colleges doubled in 2015

Though totals remain historically low, watchdog reports 90 cases, mostly of vandalism, at 60 campuses

One of the two swastikas spray painted outside a Jewish fraternity at the University of California, Davis on January 31, 2015. One was spray painted on their back wall and the other on their steps. (Screen capture: Sacramento Bee)
One of the two swastikas spray painted outside a Jewish fraternity at the University of California, Davis on January 31, 2015. One was spray painted on their back wall and the other on their steps. (Screen capture: Sacramento Bee)

Anti-Semitic incidents on US college and university campuses doubled in 2015, though the total number of anti-Jewish hate crimes remained historically low, the Anti-Defamation League watchdog said on Wednesday.

A new audit released by the ADL showed 90 anti-Semitic incidents were reported at 60 American campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents reported at 43 campuses in 2014.

The bulk of the incidents reported on campus were vandalism, and accounted for 10 percent of the total incidents reported in the US in 2015.

“Despite the increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus, such incidents are still relatively rare and the vast majority of Jewish students report feeling safe on their campuses,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “When such incidents do occur, they are generally condemned by administrators and the wider campus communities at their respective colleges.”

Last year, a total of 941 anti-Jewish incidents were reported, an increase of about 3% from the 912 incidents recorded the year prior. The bulk of the attacks were harassment and threats (508), followed by vandalism (377) and assault (56).

Most of the incidents took place in New York (198), followed by California (175), New Jersey (137), Florida (91), Pennsylvania (48) and Massachusetts (50). All of the states mentioned above are home to a sizable Jewish community.

Anti-Semitic graffiti found outside a Florida complex, September 2015. (YouTube screenshot)
Anti-Semitic graffiti found outside a Florida complex, September 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

While the report revealed only a slight rise in the total number of anti-Semitic attacks reported in 2015, the number of violent attacks against Jews jumped more than 50% in the same period. There were 56 violent assaults reported last year compared to 36 in 2014.

“We are disturbed that violent anti-Semitic incidents are rising,” Greenblatt said. “And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported. So even as the total incidents have remained statistically steady from year to year, the trend toward anti-Semitic violence is very concerning.”

Despite the increase, the ADL said the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US remains historically low.

In recent years, hate crimes against Jews in the US peaked in 2006, when a total of 1,554 incidents were reported.

The 2015 audit did not account for anti-Semitic harassment online, a phenomenon “so widespread it is difficult to quantify,” ADL National Chair Marvin Nathan noted.

Online expressions of anti-Semitism “seems to have corresponded to the political season, with a large amount of this vitriol directed at journalists and other public figures,” the ADL said.

In response, the watchdog group launched its Task Force on Online Harassment and Journalism, a project dedicated to investigating and formulating responses to the prevalence of anti-Semitism on social media platforms.

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