By: Marissa Mason | Managing Editor
The Anti-Defamation League found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. had the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979, rising 57 percent in 2017.
“… The norm has been relatively high antisemitism and anti-Jewish animus while the relative period of tranquility in the late 20th century was the exception,” Dr. David Meola, USA professor professor of Jewish Studies said. “I also don’t believe that what we are experiencing now is a ‘new wave,’ but rather is just a re-surfacing of sentiment that has been below the surface for quite some time. The difference has always been the environment in which such sentiments operate.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that there are 954 hate groups currently operating in the US.
ADL reported 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This is the first time since 2010 that an incident occurred in every U.S. state.
Of the 1,986 incidents, ADL divides them into three categories:
- Harassment- where a Jewish person or group of people feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of someone else.
- Vandalism- where property is damaged in a manner that indicates the presence of anti-Semitic animus or in a manner that victimizes Jews for their religious affiliation.
- Assault- where people’s bodies are targeted with violence accompanied by expressions of anti-Semitic animus.
The largest rise was in vandalism with 952 recorded incidents, an 86 percent increase over the 510 incidents in 2016.
“The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts of vandalism is particularly concerning, because it indicates that the perpetrators feel emboldened enough to break the law,” ADL states.
The AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit organization that investigates, documents and combats antisemitism at institutions in the U.S., has kept a record of events and incidents across campuses in the U.S., trying to be as meticulous as possible. The University of South Alabama has only one featured incident on the AMCHA Initiative site: A vandalism case where a swastika was carved into a chair in the Humanities building on Sept. 27, 2018. Since then, USA, as well as other schools, has received anti-semitic faxes. Although local news sources reported on this incident, it has yet to be added to the AMCHA Initiative site.
K-12 schools reported 221 instances of vandalism, including swastikas either drawn or scratched into school facilities or drawn on Jewish students’ notebooks, according to ADL. ADL also reported, “In many cases, the swastikas in 2017 were accompanied by phrases like ‘Hitler was not wrong,’ ‘Heil Hitler,’ ‘Kill all Jews,’ and ‘No Jews.’ In a few cases, the swastikas were accompanied by the phrase ‘white power’ or neo-Nazi codes, like the numbers 14/88.”
“We are seeing an environment in which anti-Semitism has moved from the margins to the mainstream as political candidates and people in public life literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists,” ADL Chief Executive and Director Jonathan Greenblatt said.