Anti-Semitic Incidents in US Reach All-Time High in 2021, ADL Report Shows

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Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS on 13 February, 2020
By TPS • 26 April, 2022

Jerusalem, 26 April, 2022 (TPS) — Anti-Semitic incidents reached an all-time high in the US in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), representing the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979, an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34% increase over the 2,026 incidents recorded in 2020.

ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, published Tuesday, found that anti-Semitic incidents reached a high watermark across virtually every category. Attacks against Jewish institutions, including Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues, were up by 61%, incidents at K-12 schools increased 106%, and incidents on college campuses rose 21%.

Assaults, considered the most serious incident type because it involves person-on-person physical violence triggered by anti-Semitic animus, increased 167%, jumping to a total of 88 reports in 2021 from 33 in 2020. Incidents of harassment were up 43%, and acts of anti-Semitic vandalism rose 14%.

Eleven of the assaults in 2021 were perpetrated with deadly weapons. The 88 incidents of assault included 131 victims. Fortunately, no fatalities linked to anti-Semitic assaults were reported in 2021.

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A substantial surge was reported in May, during the IDF’s Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas. There was a staggering 148% increase in reports of anti-Semitic incidents that month when compared to May 2020, as tensions were high and hundreds of anti-Israel protests took place in dozens of US cities. Jewish individuals were violently beaten in the streets from New York to Los Angeles, and a total of 387 incidents were reported that month, with 297 of the incidents occurring after May 10, the date marking the official start of the counterterrorism operation.

“While we have always seen a rise in anti-Semitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away.”

However, overall, anti-Israel sentiment did not account for the lion’s share of incidents in 2021. Anti-Semitic acts also spiked in November and December, times when there was no similar triggering factor. Nearly 18% of the incidents last year, at least 484, were attributable to actions by “domestic extremists.”

“When it comes to anti-Semitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system, and in many cases, we simply don’t know the motivation,” said Greenblatt. “But we do know that Jews are experiencing more anti-Semitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that’s a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures.”

Incidents were reported in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The states with the highest number of incidents were New York with 416, New Jersey with 370, California with 367, Florida with 190, Michigan with 112, and Texas with 112. Combined, these states accounted for 58% of the total incidents.

ADL’s Audit recorded 484 anti-Semitic incidents attributed to “known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology.” This represents 18% of the total number of incidents. White supremacist groups or extremists were responsible for 422 anti-Semitic propaganda distributions, a 52% increase year over year.

A total of 345 anti-Semitic incidents in 2021 involved references to Israel or Zionism, compared to 178 in 2020. Of those, 68 appeared in the form of white supremacist propaganda efforts, which attempt to foment anti-Israel and anti-Semitic beliefs.

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