HAMDEN – The number of reported antisemitic incidents declined slightly in 2018, but remained near-historic levels, according to new data released April 30 by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
There were 39 incidents of anti-Jewish harassment, vandalism and assault reported in Connecticut in 2018. The number of antisemitic incidents reported in Connecticut reached a peak with 49 incidents in 2017 and 38 in 2016. The last three years’ reports of antisemitic incidents are the highest in more than 12 years in Connecticut.
“While the number of incidents reported to our offices declined slightly in 2018, the level of reported antisemitic incidents over the last three years is the highest we have seen in over a decade,” said ADL Connecticut Regional Director Steve Ginsburg. “Here in Connecticut, we are redoubling our efforts to educate students, communities, law enforcement and leaders on this pernicious age-old hatred.”
The 2018 ADL Audit identified in Connecticut: 19 cases of harassment and threats; 19 cases of vandalism; one assault.
Nationwide, the U.S. Jewish community also experienced near-historic levels of antisemitism in 2018, including a doubling of antisemitic assaults and the single deadliest attack in U.S. history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the country in 2018, the third-highest year on record since ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s.
The year 2018 was marked by a shooting spree by a white supremacist that claimed 11 lives at the Pittsburgh synagogue and was punctuated by a dramatic surge in white supremacist propaganda activity nationwide.
ADL’s Audit identified 59 people from across the country who were victims of antisemitic assaults in 2018, up from 21 in 2017. While the overall number of incidents represents a five percent decline from the 1,986 incidents reported in 2017, the number of incidents last year remained at near-historic levels – 48 percent higher than the total for 2016 and 99 percent higher than in 2015.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has gathered the complete 2018 data, as well as data from previous years, on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart antisemitic incidents and events nationally and regionally.
“The audit identifies trends and emerging issues in hate crimes and analyzes these trends in ways that allow policymakers to address the issues in their jurisdiction,” said Jack McDevitt, Director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University. “The increased number of antisemitic incidents tied to extremist groups is deeply troubling and should be addressed immediately by police and prosecutors.”
The Audit offers a snapshot of one of the ways American Jews encounter antisemitism, but a full understanding of antisemitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including but not limited to, public opinion polling, assessments of online antisemitism, and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as ADL Global 100, Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on Twitter, Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience, Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2018, and White Supremacists Step Up Off-Campus Propaganda Efforts in 2018.
Among the steps ADL takes to address address antisemitic incidents and behavior – an approach that includes educating youth and working with law enforcement to apprehend perpetrators – ADL recently announced that former Homeland Security secretaries Michael Chertoff and Jeh Johnson will co-chair a new Community Safety and Security Task Force convened by ADL and Secure Community Network (SCN), the homeland security and safety initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations. According to an ADL spokesperson, the task force will work to enhance the safety, security and resiliency of religious communities.
In response to the historic rise in antisemitic incidents over the past three years, ADL has made the following policy recommendations:
Public officials and civic leaders should use their bully pulpits to speak out against antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism.
Congress should hold additional hearings on the increase in hate crimes, the rise of extremist groups and proliferation of their propaganda, and support legislation, including the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, that calls on the federal government to improve coordinated responses and collect data on domestic terrorism.
Policymakers must support efforts to provide law enforcement officials with the tools and training they need to prevent and effectively respond to hate crimes. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies should also improve their procedures for responding to and reporting hate crimes.
School districts should promote anti-bias and bullying prevention programs in elementary and secondary schools. Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, state legislators and mayors should increase funding to promote an inclusive school climate and for anti-bias education and hate crime prevention.
“It is incumbent upon our leaders to continue fighting antisemitism at every opportunity,” said George Selim, ADL senior vice president of programs and a former DHS official. “We will continue to advocate for legislative and other remedies to ensure that there is no place for antisemitism in our society.”
The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs.