LOS ANGELES – American Jews experienced near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults and the single deadliest attack in U.S. history, according to data released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the country in 2018, the third-highest year on record since ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s, the organization said in a statement.
In a year marked by the white supremacist shooting spree at a Pittsburgh synagogue, which claimed 11 lives, and punctuated by a dramatic surge in white supremacist propaganda activity nationwide, ADL’s Audit identified 59 people who were victims of anti-Semitic assaults in 2018, up from 21 in 2017. While the overall number of incidents represents a 5% decline from 1,986 incidents reported in 2017, the number of incidents last year remained at near-historic levels — 48% percent higher than the total for 2016 and 99 percent higher than in 2015.
California saw an overall increase of 27%, with 244 incidents of harassment, 88 incidents of vandalism, and 9 incidents of assault.
“We continue to be concerned about the historic levels of anti- Semitism both nationwide and in California,” said ADL Los Angeles Regional Director Amanda Susskind. “While some measure of the uptick in California may be due to better reporting, anti-Semitic incidents continue to plague our communities — the fatal shooting in Poway and the thwarted terrorist attack over the weekend are just two stark reminders.”
ADL’s annual tally of incidents nationwide found that anti-Semitic assaults, harassment and vandalism are still pervasive in the U.S. All but four states experienced anti-Semitic incidents. In addition to the October mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, 2018 saw high levels of white supremacist activity, including propaganda on college campuses and in communities, and hateful robocalls aimed at voters.
“We’ve worked hard to push back against anti-Semitism, and succeeded in improving hate crime laws, and yet we continue to experience an alarmingly high number of anti-Semitic acts,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “We unfortunately saw this trend continue into 2019 with the tragic shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway. It’s clear we must remain vigilant in working to counter the threat of violent anti-Semitism and denounce it in all forms, wherever the source and regardless of the political affiliation of its proponents.”
ADL’s Audit classifies all incidents into three categories: assault, harassment and vandalism. Of the total incidents reported in 2018, 1,066 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment were reported to ADL last year, a 5% increase from 1,015 in 2017, and a 48% increase from 721 in 2016. In California there were 244 incidents of harassment reported, up from 160 during 2017.
The Audit also noted spikes at several points during the year. The final three months of the year were unusually active, with 255 incidents in October, 300 in November and 194 in December. The high number in October included 45 propaganda distributions by white supremacists.
The incidents in November and December immediately followed the Pittsburgh massacre, which likely drew more attention to anti-Semitic activities. Incidents first spiked in May, when 209 anti-Semitic acts were reported, including 80 anti-Semitic robocalls sent by white supremacists, which targeted Jewish individuals and institutions with harassing messages.
Incidents took place in nearly every state across the country but, consistent with prior reports, the states with the highest number of incidents tend to be those with the largest Jewish populations. These include California (341); New York (340); New Jersey (200) and Massachusetts (144). Combined, these states accounted for more than half of the total incidents in the U.S.
Anti-Semitic incidents took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions and schools:
At private businesses and retail establishments: 211 (5% increase from 201 in 2017)
In cemeteries: 8 (up from 7 in 2017)
In homes: 276 (16% increase from 238 in 2017)
Incidents on college campuses: 201 (1% decrease from 204 in 2017)
Incidents in K-12 schools: 344 (25% decrease from 457 in 2017)
Incidents at Jewish institutions: 265 (23% decrease from 342 in 2017).