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Anti-Semitism in the United States: ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in 2010

(Updated October 2011)

The Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 1,239 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States in 2010, which represents a 2.3% increase over 2009.

These included:

  • 22 physical assaults on Jewish individuals (down from 29 in 2009)
  • 900 cases of anti-Semitic harassment, threats and events (up from 760 in 2009)
  • 317 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism (down from 422 in 2009)

This slight increase in incidents shows that anti-Semitism in the U.S. remains unacceptably high.  From assaults to online hate content, from vandalism to harassment, the U.S. is far from immune to the world's oldest hatred.  Taken together with the fact that anti-Semitism routinely appears in online environments, the 2010 ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents demonstrates that anti-Semitism is a serious, persistent and ingrained phenomena in America.

The 2010 Audit comprises incidents from 45 states and the District of Columbia, including official crime statistics as well as information provided to ADL's regional offices by victims, law enforcement offices and community leaders and members.

The 2.3% increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents follows several years of decline.  Although no single factor explains this slight increase, it occurs within the context of the continued expansion of online anti-Semitism and hate.  While, on the one hand, this provides an outlet for people who may have otherwise expressed themselves in non-virtual environments, on the other hand this may be leading to a coarsening of attitudes and beliefs that has infected real world behavior.

Continuing a longtime trend, the states with the highest totals were those with large Jewish populations. The highest number of anti-Semitic incidents per state are as follows: California (297, up from 275); New York (205, down from 209); New Jersey (130, down from 132); Florida (116, up from 90). Other states that had double-digit incidents recorded: Massachusetts (64, up from 55); Pennsylvania (42, down from 65); Colorado (38, up from 14); Connecticut (38, up from 24); and Texas (37, up from 28). No anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in six states: Alaska, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

A total of 22 anti-Semitic assaults on Jewish individuals (or individuals thought to be Jewish) took place in the United States in 2010, according to the ADL Audit. In Illinois, two suspicious packages that were intercepted on cargo planes Friday were addressed to Chicago Jewish institution are thought to have originated in Yemen as part of a plot by Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula.

ADL recorded 900 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in 2010 up from 760 the year before.  Incidents included verbal attacks and slurs against Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived to be Jewish); anti-Semitism conveyed in written or electronic communications, including anti-Semitic cyberbullying; and anti-Semitic speeches, picketing, or events.

"As a barometer of anti-Semitism in America, the Audit helps us to identify trends across the country and to take stock of how and where anti-Semitism is manifested," said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair.  "This information helps us to work with law enforcement and others in cities and communities to address the problem of hatred of Jews."

It is also important to note that 2010 saw fewer incidents relating to the anti-Semitic activities of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Audit encompasses criminal acts, such as vandalism, violence, and threats of violence, as well as non-criminal incidents of harassment and intimidation.  The latter is comprised primarily of hate propaganda, leafleting and verbal slurs.

Continuing an adjustment made last year, the Audit continues to include swastikas targeting Jews or Jewish institutions, but no longer includes swastikas that are used without specifically attacking Jews, which is a more conservative approach to counting such graffiti.  This approach recognizes that the Nazi swastika is no longer exclusively used as a hate symbol against Jews; rather, it is used in vandalism incidents targeting others or for its shock value.

The Audit has never included, and does not now include, thousands of anti-Semitic events that occurred in cyberspace.  This decision was made because anti-Semitism in cyberspace, a matter of great concern to ADL, is virtually impossible to quantify. 

While the Audit does not typically include expressions of opposition to Zionism or Israel, it does include them if they are accompanied by the invocation of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as Nazi imagery or analogies, or references that delegitimize, demonize or reflect a double standard about Israel.

Sources: Anti-Defamation League