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April 1, 2014 1:27 pm

ADL: Violent Anti-Semitic Assaults in U.S. Nearly Doubled in 2013

avatar by Joshua Levitt

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. Photo: Justin Hoch.

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. Photo: Justin Hoch.

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday said violent anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. nearly doubled from a year earlier to 31, up from 17.

The tally was from the ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents conducted by the Jewish human rights group since 1979.

The ADL said the reported assaults included: an unprovoked attack by four men on a 24-year-old Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, in Brooklyn, NY; an assault on a 12-year-old Jewish girl, who had a bottle thrown at her by a group of girls, including one who yelled, “You dirty Jew”; and the attack on a Jewish man, in Los Angeles, CA, who was surrounded by five male suspects who yelled “Heil Hitler!” before striking him.

None of the assaults were life threatening or required hospitalization, the ADL said.

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Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, “The high number of violent in-your-face assaults is a sobering reminder that, despite the overall decline in anti-Semitic incidents, there is still a subset of Americans who are deeply infected with anti-Semitism and who feel emboldened enough to act out their bigotry. Such incidents are often among the most traumatic for individuals as they involve person-on-person violence.”

Overall, however, the ADL audit showed a decline in the total number of incidents, which include harassment and vandalism, as well as violent assault. The ADL said 751 total incidents were reported across the U.S. in 2013, down 19 percent from the 927 incidents in 2012. In 2013, anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Vandalism accounted for 315 incidents in 2013, down from 440 in 2012, while harassment accounted for 405 incidents, down from 470.

“We must remember that there are people behind every one of these numbers, and every incident represents one person or an entire community affected by the trauma of anti-Semitism,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, said. “Every swastika scrawled on a school or rally held by a racist group demands a response — by law enforcement, by the community, and by public officials — to ensure that we reinforce the message that anti-Semitism is unacceptable in society.”

The full report included state-by-state totals that showed anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and Texas, while the greatest number were in New York and California, which have the largest Jewish populations.

The report did not include anti-Jewish expressions on the Internet, though it recognized the anonymous forum provided online can contribute to “fomenting real-world anti-Semitism,” only physical, non-virtual, incidents were included in the current audit.

Foxman said, “The explosion of viral hate is impossible to quantify, but should not be ignored. The Internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions, and we suspect that it has also led many to take their opinions online rather than leafleting entire neighborhoods. So, that may have an impact on the Audit’s findings, which measure real world incidents as opposed to viral hate, which is impossible to quantify given its proliferation on the Internet and on social media.”

The ADL said that it has also found a correlation between anti-Semitic incidents and Israeli military conflicts. While Israel was in the headlines in 2013 due to the on-going peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, there were relatively few mass demonstrations against the Jewish state. The ADL said “the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and military campaigns in Gaza to thwart Hamas rocket attacks… spurred hundreds of demonstrations in major cities across the U.S. that sometimes featured blatantly anti-Semitic slogans, signs and rhetoric.”

Foxman said, “Because anti-Semitism has found its way into the periphery of the anti-Israel movement in recent years, a decrease in the number of anti-Israel demonstrations on campus and elsewhere translated to a decrease in the anti-Semitism that can accompany such events.”

In the statement, the ADL said, “While the Audit does not categorize criticism of Israel or Zionism as an anti-Semitic incident, such reports are included if they cross the line from legitimate criticism to anti-Semitism by invoking classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies. Public expressions of anti-Israel sentiments that demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation for U.S. Jews are counted.”

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