Anti-Semitic incidents in US more than doubled within 2 years – report

ADL cites Charlottesville march as major factor in sharpest-ever spike in anti-Jewish acts, accuses Trump of failing to swiftly condemn incidents

Illustrative: A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber/File)
Illustrative: A white supremacist carrying a Nazi flag into Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber/File)

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States spiked in 2017, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, which partly blamed US President Donald Trump for the rise due to “the divisive state of our national discourse.”

There were 1,986 acts of anti-Semitism in the US last year, according to an ADL audit released Tuesday. That is more than double the total from 2015, which was 942. It’s also a 57 percent increase over the 2016 total of 1,267. The audit said that the rise is due in part to an increase in people reporting incidents of anti-Semitism.

The toll represents the second-highest number of anti-Semitic incidents ever recorded since the ADL began documenting them almost four decades ago, and is the highest-ever single-year jump.

The 2017 number includes more than 160 bomb threats sent to Jewish community centers and other institutions early that year. A Jewish teen from Israel has been arrested for making the vast majority of those threats, which were all not credible.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO And National Director of the Anti-Defamation League testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Even discounting the JCC bomb threats, reported incidents still increased by 43% over 2016. Anti-Semitic incidents on schools and college campuses also doubled in 2017 for the second year in a row. Non-Jewish elementary and high schools experienced 457 anti-Semitic incidents, compared to 235 in 2016 and 114 in 2015.

Almost all of the instances were either harassment — including the bomb threats — or vandalism, including seven instances of Jewish cemeteries being desecrated. There were also 19 anti-Semitic physical assaults, a decline of 47% from 2016.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and national director, said in a statement. “These incidents came at a time when we saw a rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society.”

Much of the nation was shocked last summer to see the level of anti-Semitic and racist and vitriol when a white supremacist rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Rally-goers, who billed themselves as part of the “alt-right” movement, marched through the streets of the bucolic town hoisting Nazi flags and confederate regalia. Some were wearing Ku Klux Klan garments. The day culminated in a Nazi sympathizer ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring many.

“We’ve never had a moment like this,” said Greenblatt, the Los Angeles Times reported. “We’ve seen so much intolerance sneak into the public.”

US President Donald Trump speaks about the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington Monday, August 14, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Greenblatt pointed to Trump’s delay in condemning anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric such as the Charlottesville march and the JCC bomb threats, as well as his retweeting white supremacist groups and use of “anti-Semitic imagery” on social media.

After the Charlottesville violence, Trump blamed “both sides” for what unfolded and said there were “many fine people” marching with the neo-Nazis. At the time, Jewish congressman Jamie Raskin told The Times of Israel that kind of response would “invite repeated actions.”

Trump has rejected similar criticism in the past, citing his Jewish family members, including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and has described himself as the “least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

The states that saw the most anti-Semitic incidents were those with large Jewish populations: New York had 380 incidents of anti-Semitism, California had 268 and New Jersey had 208.

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