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ADL Audit: Antisemitic incidents in US hit historic heights in 2021

Throughout the decades the Anti-Defamation League has been releasing the organization’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, there has never been a year like 2021. 

And the news isn’t good.

In 2021, according to the ADL’s recently released annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the organization tracked 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the United States. This represents a 34 percent increase from 2020 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

The Audit classifies incidents into three categories:

Assaults: Antisemitic assaults increased 167 percent. A total of 88 incidents targeting 131 victims were categorized as assault, defined as cases where Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were targeted with physical violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic hatred. Eleven of the assaults in 2021 were perpetrated with deadly weapons.

Harassment: 1,776 incidents were categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. Acts of harassment increased 43 percent over 2020.

Vandalism: 853 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged along with evidence of antisemitic intent. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 14 percent. Swastikaswhich are generally interpreted as symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in more than two-thirds of these incidents.

Major findings in Connecticut

Connecticut has not been immune to these national trends. In 2021, Connecticut was host to significant incidents of antisemitism across our state from large cities to small towns. 

A total of 34 antisemitic incidents were reported and recorded in Connecticut in 2021, a 42% increase relative to the 24 incidents recorded in 2020. 

The incidents break down as follows:

Vandalism: 16 incidents in 2021, a 78% increase from 2020

Harassment: 18 incidents in 2021, a 38% increase from 2020

Assaults: None recorded

Despite this increase in incidents in 2021, there were no deadly attacks perpetrated against the Jewish community. However, that does not mean that there weren’t violent incidents. They ranged from an individual yelling “f***ing Jew” and throwing a glass bottle at a Jewish girl as she got off a school bus in University Heights, Ohio, to a driver backing his car into a group of Hasidic Jewish men in Brooklyn to Jewish diners at a restaurant in Los Angeles being attacked by a group carrying Palestinian flags and yelling antisemitic slurs. 

In Connecticut, students experienced school-based and on campus incidents of harassment between students, and Nazi graffiti.

These incidents at schools were part of a staggering 141% surge in reported antisemitic incidents in May of 2021, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Jews were being attacked in the streets, 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.

The data shows that no part of the country is immune to this rise in antisemitic incidents, with all 50 states and the District of Columbia affected. Too many Jewish communities had direct encounters with hate, and too many Jewish institutions – from schools to synagogues to community centers – have been reminded that they are vulnerable as incidents targeting these institutions climbed 61%.

To read the full audit report, visit adl.org.

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