Show caption Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue speaks at the ‘No Fear Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People’ event in Washington last July. Photograph: Allison Bailey/REX/Shutterstock US news Civil rights group counts record tally of antisemitic incidents in US Anti-Defamation League counts 2,717 incidents of harassment, assault and vandalism in 2021 – highest since it began counting Associated Press Tue 26 Apr 2022 13.34 BST Share on Facebook
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A Jewish civil rights organization’s annual tally of antisemitic incidents in the US reached a record high last year, with a surge that coincided with an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas militant group, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Anti-Defamation League counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in 2021, a 34% increase over the previous year and the highest number since the New York City-based group began tracking such incidents in 1979.
Over 260 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas. Israeli aircraft struck hundreds of targets in Gaza, while Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israel. The Israeli air force bombed and destroyed a 12-storey tower that housed dozens of families as well as offices belonging to the Associated Press and the Al Jazeera satellite channel.
The L counted 297 antisemitic incidents that occurred between the start of military action on 10 May and the end of the month, a 141% increase from the 123 incidents that it counted during the same period in 2020.
“The perpetrators of many of these incidents explicitly referred to the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” says the report from the L, which is known for combatting antisemitism and tracking extremism.
The L said its tally of antisemitic incidents still increased by 46% during the last 20 days of May 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, even when incidents with explicit references to Israel or Zionism are excluded.
“It’s alarming because the vitriol against the Jewish community is coming from all angles,” said Oren Segal, vice-president of the L’s Center on Extremism.
The L counted 15 antisemitic assaults between 10 May and 30 May last year after counting none during the same period in 2020. The group said there is evidence that at least eight of those assaults were motivated by “anti-Israel/anti-Zionism sentiment”.
For example, it cited an 18 May incident in which people in a caravan of cars and flying Palestinian flags attacked Jewish diners outside a Los Angeles restaurant.
“The Palestinian supporters pushed one of the victims to the ground and kicked him. Soon after, a brawl erupted, and subsequent news reports indicated the attackers also hurled anti-Jewish slurs during the melee,” the L report says.
L also cited a 20 May incident in New York, where a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke was attacked on his way to a pro-Israel rally. His attackers yelled anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slurs while they punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed him, the report says.
L says its audit includes incidents of harassment, vandalism or assault that incorporated “anti-Israel and/or anti-Zionism themes” if they also express “classic anti-Jewish animus“ or “demonize Jews as a group for real or perceived support of Israel”.
The 11-day war led to hundreds of “anti-Israel” protests and rallies in the US, the report says. But the group says its audit didn’t include those events unless they “featured slogans or signs that directly linked their opposition to Israel or Zionism to all Jews or incorporated antisemitic tropes”.
The audit found that extremists groups or individuals, including white supremacists, were responsible for 484 incidents last year, up from 332 in 2020. The distribution of antisemitic flyers, banners, stickers or written messages accounted for most of those incidents. They also included acts of vandalism and bomb threats to Jewish institutions.
The group’s tally of total 2,717 incidents last year included 1,776 cases of harassment, a 43% increase from 1,242 in 2020. The L also counted a 14% increase in vandalism cases (from 751 in 2020 to 853 last year) and a 167% increase in assault incidents (from 33 in 2020 to 88 last year). The 88 assault incidents involved 131 victims, none of whom were killed, the report says.
The L says it compiles data for its annual audit by evaluating information reported by news media, victims, law enforcement and community leaders. The group says it avoids conflating general criticism of Israel or anti-Israel activism with antisemitism.
“However, Israel-related harassment of identifiable groups or individuals may be included when the harassment incorporated anti-Jewish references, accusations and/or conspiracy theories, or when American Jews are demonized for their real or perceived support of Israel,” the report says.