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Florida sees drastic increase in antisemitic incidents in 2020

From antisemitic Zoom-bombing at Florida International University to graffiti at a Broward County construction site reading “The Jews did 9/11,” Florida saw a troubling 40% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2020.

While the United States saw an overall decrease in antisemitic incidents last year, Florida was the site of 127 antisemitic incidents involving harassment and vandalism in 2020, up from 91 in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit on Antisemitic Incidents released Tuesday.

“For the last two years, we have seen a steady increase of anti-Semitic incidents in the State of Florida,” said Yael Hershfield, ADL Florida Interim Regional director in a news release. “The first step in addressing a societal problem is acknowledging it for what it actually is. And we must recognize that the hatred experienced by the Jewish community is real, and increasingly pervasive.”

While Florida had no recorded cases of antisemitic assault, the state saw an increase in both vandalism (30 incidents, up from 24) and harassment (97 cases, up from 64) since 2019.

Many incidents of harassment occurred online in what has come to be known as “zoombombing.” In these incidents, Jewish individuals, organizations, and institutions reported interruptions in their virtual meetings in which the “zoombomber” would dispel antisemitic and often racist imagery or speech.

Florida had the fourth highest number of antisemitic incidents after New York (336), New Jersey (295), and California (289), and Miami-Dade saw the highest number of incidents (27) of any other county in the state.

Nationwide, 2,024 antisemitic incidents including vandalism, harassment and assault were recorded in 2020, down 4% from 2019. The audit showed a 12% decline in vandalism and a 49% decline in assault incidents, but a 10% rise in harassment incidents across the country.

Despite the overall decrease, antisemitic incidents remain at historically high levels, according the the ADL’s tracking.

“While any decline in the data is encouraging, we still experienced a year in which antisemitic acts remained at a disturbingly high level despite lockdowns and other significant changes in our daily lives and interactions with others,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL chief executive officer. “We can’t let our guard down. As communities begin to open up and people spend more time in person with others, we must remain vigilant.”

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