Antisemitic Incidents Down for Third Year

By Marissa Brostoff

Published March 07, 2008, issue of March 14, 2008.
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During a year with many high-profile antisemitic attacks, the overall number of antisemitic incidents in the United States declined for the third year in a row, according to a report released March 5 by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL counted 1,357 antisemitic incidents in the United States last year, compared with 1,554 in 2006 — a 13% decrease. The number of reported episodes has declined steadily for the past three years, according to the organization.

The report, an annual brief called the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, tabulated for last year 612 incidents of vandalism and 745 incidents of harassment. The ADL draws its data from official crime statistics and from reports made directly to its offices.

Rocks and tomatoes thrown at a synagogue building in Denver, defaced tombstones in Jewish cemeteries in Chicago and antisemitic literature distributed to homes in Cincinnati were among the counts of vandalism mentioned in the report.

Of the harassment episodes documented, 197 took place in schools. In Kankakee, Ind., “a middle school student was hit in the head by another student who asked her where her ‘Jew cap’ was.” School property in Phoenix; Greenwood Village, Colo., and Old Bridge Township, N.J., was defaced with swastikas.

Antisemitic acts perpetrated by hate groups declined to 43 in 2007, a sharp drop from 112 in 2005. The ADL speculates that this decline may be a result of hate groups’ increased use of the Internet to disseminate their ideas. Since incidents that take place online are, according to the report, “extremely difficult to quantify,” they are not included in the tally.

More antisemitic episodes were reported in New York than in any other state, the report found. In contrast to the overall decline of incidents nationally, New York saw a rise in antisemitic activity in 2007: The number of incidents reported last year totaled 351, a 23% increase from 2006. The sharpest rise in the state took place on Long Island, where reported antisemitic activity increased from the previous year by 59%.

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