Anti-Semitic incidents in U.S. surging in 2017, according to ADL

Vandalized gravestones at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, N.Y., in March. Photo by Gretchen Stumme/AFP/Getty Images

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States soared 86 percent in the first three months of 2017 after rising by more than one-third in 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

There has been a massive increase in harassment of American Jews, largely since November, and at least 34 incidents linked to the presidential election that month, the ADL said Monday in its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents.

This year has seen preliminary reports of 541 anti-Semitic incidents through March. One reason for the jump appeared to be the bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions across the country. An Israeli-American teenager is accused of calling in most of them, and he has been charged in Israel and the United States. He is in custody in Israel.

The 2017 incidents include 380 for harassment, including the 161 bomb threats, an increase of 127 percent over the first quarter of 2016; 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.

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

—JTA News and Features

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