ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents in US up 21% in 2014

Spike recorded during Gaza war, but total number of anti-Jewish attacks ‘remains lower than we have seen historically’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative: a screenshot from the documentary 'Crossing the Line 2,' which depicts rising anti-Semitic activity on North American campuses. (Courtesy)
Illustrative: a screenshot from the documentary 'Crossing the Line 2,' which depicts rising anti-Semitic activity on North American campuses. (Courtesy)

Anti-Semitic incidents in the US jumped in 2014, though the total number remained historically low, the Anti-Defamation League watchdog said on Monday.

An audit released by the ADL showed 912 anti-Semitic attacks in 2014, a 21-percent increase from the 751 attacks a year earlier, but still significantly lower than numbers in 1979, the first year the group tracked incidents.

The bulk of the attacks were harassment and threats (513), followed by vandalism (363), and assault (36).

The report follows a number of similar studies showing a sharp increase in anti-Semitism worldwide, and particularly in Europe, last year, partially touched off by Israel’s summer war with Hamas-led fighters in Gaza.

“While the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents remains lower than we have seen historically, the fact remains that 2014 was a particularly violent year for Jews both overseas and in the United States,” said ADL Director Abraham H. Foxman in a statement.

“The fatal shootings in Overland Park, Kansas, at a Jewish community center building and at a senior residence by a white supremacist whose goal was to ‘kill Jews’ and other violent episodes were tragic reminders that lethal anti-Semitism continues to pose a threat to American Jews and larger society as well,” added Foxman.

The Gaza conflict was also a factor that contributed to the upsurge, the ADL said.

In July, there were 139 incidents reported (compared to 54 in July 2013); in August there were 116 (compared to 56 in August 2013); and 92 anti-Jewish incidents were recorded in September (compared to 58 in September 2013).

“While the Jewish community here did not experience anything like the attacks overseas, the Gaza war did have an impact in terms of creating a momentary spike in incidents in the US,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL national chair.

The audit did “not include criticism of Israel or Zionism,” the ADL said in a statement, but “such reports are included when they cross the line from legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism by invoking classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies. Public expressions of anti-Israel sentiments that demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation by targeting Jewish individuals or institutions in the US are counted.”

Most of the incidents took place in New York (231), followed by California (184), New Jersey (107), Florida (70), Pennsylvania (48), and Massachusetts (47). All of the states above are home to a sizable Jewish community.

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