The American Jewish community experienced the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents last year since tracking began in 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment reported across the United States, according to new data from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). The record number of incidents came as the Jewish community grappled with vicious and lethal anti-Semitic attacks against communities in Poway, Jersey City and Monsey, and a spree of violent assaults in Brooklyn.
The 2019 ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found that the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 increased 12 percent over the previous year, with a disturbing 56 percent increase in assaults. The audit found there were, on average, as many as six anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. for each day in the calendar year – the highest level of anti-Semitic activity ever recorded by ADL.
The year included five fatalities directly linked to anti-Semitic violence and another 91 individuals targeted in physical assaults. Incidents were reported in every one of the 48 contiguous United States and Washington, D.C. More than half of the assaults nationwide took place in the five boroughs of New York City, including 25 in Brooklyn alone.
ADL’s Center on Extremism identified 234 incidents targeting Jewish synagogues and community centers in 2019. This included the white supremacist shooting at a Chabad center in Poway, California, which killed one worshipper, a 60-year-old woman who was mourning her mother’s recent death, and injuring three more, including the rabbi.
In 2019, ADL counted a total of 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S., a 12 percent increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018.
ADL’s Audit classifies all incidents into three categories: assault, harassment and vandalism. Of the total incidents reported in 2019:
- Harassment: There were 1,127 harassment incidents, cases where one or more Jews reported feeling harassed by the anti-Semitic language or actions. Acts of harassment increased by 6 percent from 1,066 in 2018.
- Vandalism: There were 919 vandalism incidents, cases where property was damaged in a manner which that harmed or intimidated Jews. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of anti-Semitic hatred, were present in 746 of these incidents. Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism increased 19 percent from 774 in 2018.
- Assault: There were 61 assault incidents, cases where individuals were physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus. anti-Semitic assault increased 56 percent from 39 in 2018. Eleven of the 61 assaults were perpetrated with deadly weapons such as guns or knives. The 61 assault incidents harmed 95 victims, including five fatalities.
There were incidents reported in every state, except Alaska and Hawaii. The states with the highest numbers of incidents were New York: 430, New Jersey: 345, California: 330, Massachusetts: 114 and Pennsylvania: 109. Combined, these states account for nearly 45 percent of the total number of incidents.
In 2019, ADL recorded 270 anti-Semitic incidents attributed to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology. This represents 13 percent of the total number of incidents.
K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, continue to experience a significant number of anti-Semitic incidents. ADL recorded 411 incidents at K-12 non-Jewish schools in 2019 (up 19 percent from 344 in 2018), and 186 incidents at colleges and universities (down 10 percent from 201 in 2018).
In 2019, there were 234 reported incidents at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, a decrease of 12 percent from 265 in 2018. More than 170 were incidents of harassment and 60 were incidents of vandalism. Fifty of the incidents targeting Jewish institutions were perpetrated by domestic extremists.
At least 170 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 referenced Israel or Zionism. Of those, 68 took the form of white supremacist groups’ propaganda efforts, which attempt to foment anti-Israel and anti-Semitic beliefs. Most of the remaining incidents were expressions of anti-Israel animus that incorporated anti-Semitic imagery or harassment and demonization of Jewish students for their real or assumed connection to Israel.