FBI says hate crimes against Jews in the US rose by 37% last year

Anti-Semitic attacks counted for 58 percent of all religion-based hate crimes in 2017, even though Jews make up only some 2% of the population in America

A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018 in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services. (AP/Matt Rourke)
A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018 in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Hate crimes against Jews in America rose by more than a third last year and accounted for 58 percent of all religion-based hate crimes, according to data released Tuesday by the FBI, even though Jews make up only some 2 percent of the population.

Overall, hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, the data showed. with 7,175 hate crimes reported, up from 6,121 in 2016. Some of the increase may be because more police departments are reporting their hate crimes data to the FBI than ever before, 6 percent above the previous year.

The number of hate crimes based on religion is the second highest ever, behind only 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The report noted a 23 percent increase in religion-based hate crimes in 2017 to 1,564, representing about 20 percent of all hate crimes.

There were a total of 938 hate crimes committed against Jews in 2017, up from 684 in 2016.

Swastikas found spray-painted on the JCC in Fairfax Virginia on October 6, 2018. (Screen capture/Twitter)

In addition, some 58 percent of all hate crimes in 2017 were based on race, including 28 percent against African-Americans. There was also a 5 percent rise in crimes directed against LGBT individuals, to 1,130 in 2017 from 1,076 the previous year.

More than 4,000 crimes in 2017 were against people, including threats, intimidation, assault and murder. More than 3,000 were crimes against property, such as vandalism, robbery, and arson.

The report covered jurisdictions in 49 states and the District of Columbia, the FBI said. At least 92 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either did not report any data to the FBI or reported zero hate crimes.

In 1990, Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which required the U.S. attorney general to collect data “about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents for 2017, which includes both criminal and non-criminal acts, found that anti-Semitic incidents rose 57 percent in 2017, the largest single year increase on record and the second highest reported since ADL started to keep track in 1979.

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)

“Two weeks ago, we witnessed the most deadly anti-Semitic hate crime in American history,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, referring to the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 worshippers dead. “Today, we have another FBI study showing a big jump in hate crimes against Americans because of their race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

“This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America. That begins with leaders from all walks of life and from all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate whenever it occurs.”

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