Special to the Ledger
HAMDEN – The number of documented antisemitic incidents in Connecticut declined in 2012, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. A total of 17 incidents were reported across Connecticut in 2012, which included 13 incidents of harassment and four incidents of vandalism. ADL recorded 43 antisemitic incidents in Connecticut in 2011 and 39 in 2010.
“While we’re pleased to see a decrease in reported antisemitic incidents throughout the state, we’re not convinced that the drop off is as substantial as the numbers indicate,” said Gary Jones, regional director of ADL’s Connecticut office. “The audit is not an exact science. We rely on law enforcement personnel and individuals from across the state to alert us to antisemitic incidents. We will certainly be keeping a close watch on antisemitic incidents throughout the state – as we always do – over the next several years to determine whether 2012’s reported decrease becomes a trend, and we hope it does. But the bottom line is, 17 antisemitic incidents in Connecticut is 17 too many.”
“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 Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL national chair, referring to the 14 percent decline in antisemitic incidents that ADL documented nationally.
“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.”
Because of the vastness of the Internet, ADL does not statistically track online hate.
Some of the incidents reported in 2012 in Connecticut included:
Mansfield: An eighth-grade student who was sent to the principal’s office by a teacher wrote a note to a friend about that teacher: “Stupid Jew. We should have gotten rid of them when we had the chance and then she wouldn’t be my teacher.”
Hartford: About $20,000 worth of damage was done to 95 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery.
New Haven: A staff member of a senior living facility received a threatening voice mail that said, in part, “Hitler didn’t do enough.”
Simsbury: An international hacking group hacked the website of a synagogue, replacing the website’s content with information that denied the Holocaust and demonized Israel.
West Hartford: A kindergarten student told another kindergarten student on a school bus that “Jews don’t care about God.”
“We want to spread the word that ADL tracks antisemitic incidents and if you experience anti-Semitism yourself, or even if you witness it, call us and report it,” said Jones.
The ADL Audit reported a total of 927 antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2012, including assaults, vandalism and harassment, marking a 14 percent decline from the 1,080 incidents reported in 2011. The decline reflects a continuing three-year trend of incremental declines. 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, D.C.
The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has been conducted annually in the United States since 1979. More information on the 2012 Audit, including state-by-state numbers, an analysis of anti-Semitic numbers nationally and examples of incidents from around the country, is available on ADL’s website at HYPERLINK “http://www.adl.org” www.adl.org.