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ADL reports record number of antisemitic incidents in US during 2021, surge amid Gaza fighting

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators assault Jews at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles, on May 19, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Illustrative: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators assault Jews at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles on May 19, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The number of antisemitic incidents recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in the United States in 2021 reached an all-time high, according to a new report by the group.

The 2,717 incidents identified in news articles by the ADL or reported to the ADL directly in 2021 represent a 34% increase from the 2,024 incidents of antisemitism tallied by the group in 2020. Previously, the 2,107 incidents in 2019 were the highest total since the ADL began publishing annual counts in 1979.

Anything from a slur to a terror attack can be included in the tally. For the second straight year, 2021 saw no fatal incidents tied to antisemitism in the United States, but the ADL counted 88 antisemitic assaults, a 167% increase from the 33 assaults in the 2020 count.

The group cited several reasons for the high numbers — including what the ADL says was “improved reporting” because of partnerships with multiple Jewish organizations.

The partnerships — with several Jewish organizations including the Community Security Initiative, Community Security Service, Hillel International, Secure Community Network, Union of Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism — were responsible for identifying 494 incidents, or 18% of the total.

The ADL also documented a surge in incidents linked to the May 2021 round of deadly clashes between Israel and Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, many of which made national headlines at the time.

“Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt says in a statement.

The 297 incidents that took place during the fighting in May represent an increase, but the ADL recorded other spikes later in the year, without a similar trigger.

More than any single factor, Greenblatt says the overall increase in antisemitic incidents can be linked to political instability and polarization.

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