ADL reports record high of US antisemitic incidents amid Hamas war

Organization records 8,873 anti-Jewish incidents in 2023, a 140% increase over last year, with 732 of the reported instances occurring on campus

A Jewish student watches a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protest at Columbia University campus on November 14, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via AFP)
A Jewish student watches a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protest at Columbia University campus on November 14, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via AFP)

Anti-Jewish sentiment hit a peak last year, according to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report released Tuesday, which documented a record high number of antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment in the US, particularly in wake of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The organization tallied 8,873 antisemitic incidents in 2023, a 140 percent increase over 2022 and a record high since the group began keeping track in 1979, the report said.

Over 5,200 incidents were reported after October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking 253 hostage.

Israel responded to Hamas’s onslaught with a counterattack in the Gaza Strip that has killed some 32,000 Palestinians, according to the unverified tally of the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

As the war rages on, tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have reached a fever pitch in the US, particularly on college campuses.

Many Jewish students and faculty across campuses have reported an increase in antisemitic activity, saying they often feel targeted by student activists denouncing Israel’s actions.

Students participate in a protest outside the Columbia University campus in November. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

At a press conference in New York on Tuesday, ADL leaders clarified that the organization did not count protesting the Israeli government’s actions as antisemitic, but noted that 36% of all recorded antisemitic incidents in 2023 were in reference to Israel or Zionism.

“If your idea of protesting Israeli government policies is to assault or harass or scream at Jewish people, you’re not an advocate, you’re a bigot,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told reporters, calling the spike in antisemitism a “national emergency.”

“Jews in the US should not be targeted for the actions of the state of Israel,” added Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism.

The ADL recorded 732 campus-based incidents between October 7 and the end of 2023, compared to just 63 incidents in the same period in 2022.

“Jewish Americans are being targeted for who they are at school, at work, on the street, in Jewish institutions and even at home. This crisis demands immediate action from every sector of society and every state in the union,” Greenblatt said in an earlier statement.

Reported discrimination and attacks against Muslims and Palestinians also reached a record high in the US in 2023, according to a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) report released earlier this month.

Complaints totaled 8,061 in 2023, a 56% rise from the year before and the highest since the group began tracking some 30 years ago. About 3,600 of those incidents occurred from October to December, CAIR said.

Earlier this month, the ADL published a report ranking 85 US colleges with grades A through F based on the “state of antisemitism on [each] campus.”

Only two campuses, that of Brandeis University and Elon University, received an A, while the vast majority of schools received a C, D or F grade.

Jonathan Greenblatt participates in a panel during the TAAF Heritage Month Summit at The Glasshouse on May 5, 2023 in New York City. (JP Yim/Getty Images via AFP)

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” said Greenblatt on April 11.

“Like all students, Jewish students deserve to feel safe and supported on campus. They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience, with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before October 7

The ADL tallies cases reported directly to the organization and also scans media reports, law enforcement records and cases recorded by other Jewish organizations.

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