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Antisemitic incidents in U.S. surging in 2017

ADL Connecticut Region sees increase

Special to the Ledger

HAMDEN – Antisemitic incidents in the United States soared 86 percent in the first three months of 2017 after rising by more than one-third in 2016, the ADL reported Monday, April 24 in its annual “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.”

Within the ADL’s Connecticut Region, which covers the entire state of Connecticut, recorded antisemitic incidents increased to 10 in the first quarter of 2017 from a total of three in the same period of 2016. Of the 38 total incidents in 2016, 25 were categorized as harassment or threats, 12 were acts of vandalism and one was an assault. From 2015 to 2016, recorded incidents in Connecticut rose by 68 percent.

The highest increase in antisemitic incidents this year involved antisemitic harassment. ADL observed a 40 percent increase in the first quarter of 2017 from the previous year, due in part to the waves of bomb threats that hit Jewish institutions in the beginning of 2017. An Israeli-American teenager is accused of calling in most of them. He has been charged in Israel and the United States and is in custody in Israel. In Connecticut, the JCCs in Woodbridge and West Hartford received bomb threats, as did the Hebrew High School of New England located in West Hartford.

“The increase in incidents is widespread and is not explained away by the handful of bomb threats we saw in Connecticut – we received calls about and investigated more than twice as many incidents in 2016 than 2015,” said Steve Ginsburg, regional director of the ADL Connecticut office. “What is most concerning is the uptick in antisemitic harassment incidents in our schools. Implementing our anti-bias programming like “Names Can Really Hurt Us” and “The Truth about Hate”, which cover all kinds of prejudice, bullying and hatred, in schools continues to be a top priority for ADL. Our office has created and perfected these programs over the last quarter century and we will continue to work with school administrators, teachers and parents to empower students to address and combat antisemitism and all forms of hate in schools and on campus. We must send a message that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.”

The ADL reports that there has been a massive increase in the amount of harassment of Jews in the United States, particularly since November, and a doubling in the amount of antisemitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational K-12 grade schools.

The 2017 incidents include 380 for harassment, including the 161 bomb threats, an increase of 127 percent over the first quarter of ’16; 155 for vandalism, including three cemetery desecrations, an increase of 36 percent, and six physical assaults, a decrease of 40 percent.

The states with the highest number of incidents were those with large Jewish populations, including California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts.

In 2016, the report showed a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, with a 34 percent increase of incidents of assaults, vandalism and harassment over the previous year. Nearly 30 percent of those incidents, or 369, occurred in November and December.

The acts included 720 harassment and threat incidents, an increase of 41 percent over 2015; 510 vandalism incidents, an increase of 35 percent; and 36 physical assaults, a decrease of 35 percent.

Incidents on college campuses stayed mostly static after nearly doubling in 2015, but more than doubled in non-Jewish elementary, middle and high schools. The rise to 235 incidents in 2016 from 114 the previous year represented a 106 percent increase. There have been 95 incidents reported in the first quarter of this year.

“There’s been a significant, sustained increase in antisemitic activity since the start of 2016, and what’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement. “Clearly, we have work to do and need to bring more urgency to the fight. At ADL, we will use every resource available to put a stop to antisemitism. But we also need more leaders to speak out against this cancer of hate and more action at all levels to counter antisemitism.”

The ADL has been tracking antisemitic incidents since 1979. In the past 10 years, the number of reported antisemitic incidents peaked at 1,554 in 2006.

Separately, Tel Aviv University’s watchdog on antisemitism reported Sunday that the number of antisemitic incidents worldwide has decreased by 12 percent in 2016 despite the spike in the United Kingdom and the United States.


CAP: Vandalized gravestones at the Stone Road or Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, New York, March 3, 2017. (Gretchen Stumme/AFP/Getty Images)

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