The total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States fell by 14% in 2012, continuing a three-year trend of incremental declines, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued Monday.
The ADL Audit reported a total of 927 anti-Semitic incidents across the US in 2012, including assaults, vandalism and harassment, marking a 14% decline from the 1,080 incidents reported in 2011.
The 2012 total included 17 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 470 cases of harassment, threats and events, and 440 cases of vandalism. The Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents reported to ADL in 35 states and Washington, DC.
The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has been conducted annually in the United States since 1979.
“It is encouraging that in the past few years we have seen a fairly consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
“While these numbers only provide one snapshot of anti-Semitism in America, to the extent that they serve as a barometer, the decline shows that we have made progress as a society in confronting anti-Jewish hatred.
"Still, it is disturbing that there are so many incidents in America, and we must remain vigilant in responding to them and in encouraging law enforcement and the public to report these incidents as much as possible.”
Menorah desecrated in Miami Beach in December
Despite the overall decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2012, the complete picture is more complex. For even as anti-Semitic harassment, threats and events declined – to 470 incidents in 2012, from 731 in 2011 – other categories remained at a similar level or increased substantially.
“While we cannot point to any single explanation for the fluctuations from year to year, the declines of the past several years occur within the context of the continued proliferation of hatred online,” said ADL National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher.
“Unlike years ago, when racists handed out pamphlets on street corners or sent them through the mail, the Internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions.
“This explosion of viral hate is impossible to quantify, but it may have led to a migration of sorts where the haters and bigots are more likely to take to the Internet to express themselves anonymously, rather than acting out in a public setting,” added Curtiss-Lusher.
“The danger, of course, is that these online expressions can inspire and fuel real-world violence.”
According to the ADL Audit, the most dramatic increase was reported in the anti-Semitic vandalism category, which experienced a 33% increase – with a total of 440 incidents reported in 2012, compared with 330 in 2011.
While the majority of those incidents took place on public property or individual homes, Jewish institutions were targeted in 13% of the total vandalism incidents.
Moreover, physical assaults – often among the most disturbing anti-Semitic incidents because they involve person-on-person violence – remained at a similar level, with 17 incidents in 2012, compared with 19 incidents in 2011.
Continuing a consistent trend for many years, the states with the highest totals were those with large Jewish populations:
- New York State, with 248 incidents in 2012, up from 195 in 2011;
- California, with 185 incidents, down from 235;
- New Jersey, with 173 incidents, up from 144;
- Florida, with 88 incidents, down from 111;
- Massachusetts, with 38 incidents, down from 72;
- Pennsylvania, with 37 incidents, down from 38.
The annual ADL Audit tracks incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions across the United States, using data reported to the League’s 30 regional offices and law enforcement across the country.
While the Audit does not include criticism of Israel
or Zionism, such reports are included if they cross the line from legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism by invoking classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies. Public expressions of anti-Israel sentiments that demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation for US Jews are counted.
Such slurs were particularly present during Operation Pillar of Defense,
Israel’s November 2012 military campaign against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
At a demonstration in Atlanta, one protestor held a sign that read, “Israel, the new Nazis” while another held a sign that had a Star of David pictured with a swastika in its center. Similar offensive messages were displayed at rallies in Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale.
While there has been a proliferation of anti-Semitic expression online, general anti-Jewish-expressions are not counted for the purposes of the Audit unless they target a specific individual.
The ADL Audit recorded a total of 17 anti-Semitic assaults on Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived as Jewish) in 2012, down from 19 in 2011. Incidents involved the use of physical force and/or violence, spitting, and thrown objects. The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic assault in 2012:
- Rutherford, New Jersey: Molotov cocktails were thrown into a rabbi’s home, forcing him and his family to flee. (January)
- Brooklyn, New York: While walking home from synagogue on Friday night, a victim was punched in the face by two individuals in a larger group who were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as “dirty Jew” and “kike.” (June)
- Manhattan, New York: A man approached an Orthodox man waiting for the subway and then grabbed his yarmulke off his head, threw it to the ground, and stepped on it. The man stared at the victim before walking away. (July)
- Ft. Mill, South Carolina: A 15-year old boy on a bus returning from a football game was taunted with offensive comments about the Holocaust and his family. When he eventually tried to get off the bus, another student pushed him back down and told him to “Sit down, Jew.” When he tried to stand up again to get off the bus, he was pulled down another time and then hit in the face and throat before a coach broke up the fight. (October)
- San Yisidro, California: A Holocaust survivor was physically assaulted and called anti-Jewish slurs after a political confrontation in a restaurant. (November)
The ADL Audit recorded 440 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2012, up from 330 in 2011 (a 33% increase).
Vandalism incidents are individually evaluated by ADL and are categorized as anti-Semitic based on the presence of anti-Semitic symbols or language; the identity of the perpetrator(s), if known; and the target of the vandalism and its proximity to Jewish homes, communities and institutions.
The 2012 Audit includes in its totals swastikas that explicitly targeted Jewish property or communal institutions. However, swastikas targeting other minorities or those used out of context simply for shock value were not counted. A total of 316 incidents involving the use or display of swastikas targeting Jews were included in the 2012 Audit.
The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2012:
- Brooklyn, New York: Three classroom desks at a public high school were vandalized with swastikas and the words “F--- Jews,” and “F--- (teacher’s name), Jew Bitch.” (January)
- Irvine, California: A teenager came home to find a swastika and the words “f--- you” written on the garage of his family’s house while his family was inside. (January)
- Bushnell, Florida: Fourteen Jewish headstones were knocked over in a military cemetery. (March)
- Queens, New York: Graffiti was found in a school bathroom that read “Kill the Jews wherever you may find them!” (March)
- Wilmington, Delaware: Swastikas were spray painted on the driveway of a Jewish family’s home. (April)
- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: A victim’s front door was spray painted with the words, “Get the hell out Jew or die.” (June)
- Houston, Texas: Swastikas and SS bolts were scratched into a Houston synagogue. (August)
- Denver, Colorado: A Jewish day school was vandalized with swastikas and the likeness of what appeared to be a Nazi soldier. (August)
- Monmouth, New Jersey: The phrase “Kill the Jews!” was painted on multiple houses in a single neighborhood. Some houses belonged to Jews, some to non-Jews, and one to a Holocaust survivor. (September)
- Tempe, Arizona: A swastika was painted on a sukkah and its covering was slashed. (October)
- Wilmette, Illinois: A woman returned to her car to find that a Jewish day school sticker had been removed and a swastika was carved into the door while the car was parked in front of her home. (October)
- Long Beach, California: A swastika and the word “Nazi” were spray painted on the front of a synagogue. (November)
- Colorado Springs, Colorado: The menorah in front of a Chabad rabbi’s home was spray painted with a swastika. (December)
The ADL Audit recorded 470 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in 2012, down from 731 in 2011. 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.
The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic harassment in 2012:
- Teaneck, New Jersey: A flier titled “Wall Street Jews” was mailed to the Jewish Standard newspaper. (January)
- Lexington, Kentucky: Complainant was in a store when she overheard the owners talking to customers about how Jews control the media and how Jews killed Jesus. (February)
- Bronx, New York: A Holocaust survivor received a call at his home from someone who said, “I’m going to kill all of you f---ing Jews.” (June)
- Boca Raton, Florida: An elderly man was told by two aides at an assisted living facility that he should “Go back to Nazi Germany, and they will finish you off. We should just drop you and get the hell out of here.” (June)
- Brooklyn, New York: A man received a handwritten note at his apartment that read “TO JEWS, F--- YOU BITCHES!” and “HITLER IS COMING TO KILL YUR (sic) FAMILIES AGAIN.” (June)
- Macungie, Pennsylvania: A woman answered her front door after she heard the doorbell ring. Upon opening the door, she found a swastika made out of tree limbs. (July)
- San Diego California: A synagogue received a voicemail that stated, “Hey kikes. Don’t think we don’t know about the f---ing Holocaust.” (August)
- Albuquerque, New Mexico: A man received numerous anti-Semitic messages on his phone over several days calling him a “Jew f---“ and other insults. The anonymous caller described himself as Jew@verizon.com and “email@example.com.” (August)
- Los Angeles, California: The only Jewish teacher at a high school came to school to find a plastic mask painted with a Hitler mustache, a swastika, and the name “Hitler” written on it. The mask was hanging above his classroom door. (October)
- Atlanta, Georgia: Students from a Jewish day school were in an airport bookstore when images of Operation Pillar of Defense came on the TV. The cashier then said to them, “Are you Jewish too? Get out you filthy, dirty Jews.” (November)
- San Francisco, California: A Jewish institution received a bomb threat and was evacuated. The building was eventually deemed safe to re-enter. (November)
The ADL Audit reported a significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus during 2012. A total of 61 incidents were reported on college campuses, compared with 22 incidents reported in 2011.
Some of those incidents included the use of anti-Semitic imagery under the guise of anti-Israel activism, with conspiracy theories about Jewish political and economic control being voiced on campus.
For example, at a May “Palestine Liberation Week” program at the University of California, Irvine, Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Northern California-based imam, claimed that “Zionists” were responsible for the financial crisis in the US. He also argued that Zionism is a corrupting force for “Jews who believe in it.”
At Northeastern Illinois University in March, Gilad Atzmon, a self-described Israeli “ex-Jew” who has described Judaism as “extremist, chauvinist (and) racist,” used Holocaust-related language to demonize the State of Israel and reiterated conspiracy theories.
The following is a list of selected anti-Jewish incidents taking place on US college campuses in 2012:
- Seattle, Washington: A male student returned to his dorm room to find a swastika and the word “Jew” written on his door. (January)
- Boca Raton, Florida: A female student stood up in a biology class and went on a rant yelling “white people suck, Jewish people who think this world is theirs which it’s not, I will f---ing kill you at the Holocaust events all over the world.” The student also threatened to kill the professor and hit a male student in the front row before she was removed from the classroom. (March)
- State College, Pennsylvania: A swastika was spray painted on a Jewish fraternity’s sign. (April)
- Los Angeles, California: A student returned to his dorm to find the phrase “Die Jew” and a swastika written in marker on his door. (April)
- Manhattan, New York: Yeshiva University received threatening voicemails such as “Execute all persons, Jewish persons,” and “warning all Jews, the nuclear Holocaust is coming.” (July)
- Athens, Georgia: A university Chabad House was vandalized with the phrase “F---ing Z*O*G.” ZOG stands for Zionist Occupied Government, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews secretly control the government. (July)
- Columbus, Ohio: A pig’s head was placed above the front door of a Jewish sorority. (October)
- Boston, Massachusetts: Two students destroyed a Chabad menorah displayed in a university quad. (November)
- New Brunswick, New Jersey: At a rally against Operation Pillar of Defense, a student displayed a sign reading “Zionists are doing to Palestinians what Nazis did to Jews.” (November)
ADL also continues to receive a troubling number of complaints about children, adolescents and teenagers engaging in anti-Semitic behavior, both on and off school grounds.
These incidents include physical assaults, threats of violence, and verbal and written taunts promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes or evoking disturbing Holocaust themes. The following is a list of selected incidents in 2012 that represent anti-Semitic bullying of children, adolescents and teenagers by their peers:
- Omaha, Nebraska: A Jewish middle school student was bullied by older students who gave her the Nazi salute when they passed her in the hall. (January)
- Huntington Beach, California: A sixth grader was told by a classmate that he (the Jewish student) should be dead because he is Jewish. (February)
- Strongsville, Ohio: A fourth grader was told by a classmate that “If you were in Israel, I would have to kill you because you are a Jew.” (April)
- Palo Alto, California: A high school student returned to his car to find the words “F--- You Jew” scratched into the hood. (May)
- San Francisco, California: A middle school boy was harassed by classmates. Two classmates threw at him crumpled papers with swastikas and Stars of David drawn on them. (May)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico: A high school freshman was “text bombed” with hundreds of texts all saying “Kill Jews. Heil Hitler.” (May)
- Westwood, Massachusetts: While students were sitting on bleachers, a boy threw a dime at a Jewish boy and called out “Jew, Jew!”(June)
- Watkinsville, Georgia: An 11-year-old was bullied on his school bus ride by an older student who once told him “I’m German. We cook Jews in my family.” (August)