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June 22, 2016 11:24 am

Watchdog Report: California Among US States With Highest Number of Antisemitic Incidents

avatar by Lea Speyer

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California is once again one of the ADL's top offenders of antisemitic activity for 2015. Photo: Thomas Wolf/ Wikimedia Commons.

California is once again one of the ADL’s top offenders of antisemitic activity for 2015. Photo: Thomas Wolf/ Wikimedia Commons.

California is a top offender in the realm of antisemitic activity, a prominent Jewish human rights organization revealed on Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reached this conclusion from its annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found a three percent rise in the total number of anti-Jewish occurrences reported across the United States in 2015. According to the ADL, as was the case in 2014, last year, New York and California — states with large Jewish populations — continued to be home to the highest number of antisemitic incidents.

In 2015, there were 198 incidents reported in New York 175 in California. Though, according to the audit, there was a slight decrease in the number of antisemitic occurrences as compared to 2014 (231 in New York and 184 in California), both states still came out on top. 

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According to Amanda Suskind, the ADL’s Pacific Southwest regional director who spoke to the OC Register, “In 2014, we saw a huge spike, probably because of the (Israeli) military incursion in Gaza. But the numbers didn’t drop by much in 2015, which is disturbing.”

In California, Jews were victimized by vandalism, harassment and threats. One example cited by the ADL Audit was that of a San Diego woman who came home to find swastika graffiti on her mezuzah (Jewish doorpost), and the words “Jew Pig” etched onto a star of David.

Another case, which took place in December, involved three Jewish institutions receiving hand-written letters issuing death threats and calls to get out of “our white country” and “take the Muslims with you.” The letters — signed “W.A.R. – White Aryan Resistance” — blamed the “scumbag, grimy Jews” for the world’s wars. 

The ADL Audit also found that antisemitic incidents across college campuses nearly doubled in 2015 — with a total of 90 incidents reported on 60 college campuses, compared with 47 incidents on 42 campuses in 2014. In total, campus antisemitism accounted for 10 percent of all hate-based incidents reported in the US in 2015.

Across California campuses — where anti-Israel activity has become notorious — several antisemitic incidents were reported to the ADL. In January, vandals drew swastikas on an outside wall of the UC Davis AEPi Jewish fraternity on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At Berkeley in March, soon after a swastika was found on a university building, the phrase “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was discovered in a campus restroom.

According to ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt, “Despite the increase in antisemitic incidents on campus, such incidents are still relatively rare, and the vast majority of Jewish students report feeling safe on their campuses. When such incidents do occur, they are generally condemned by administrators and the wider campus communities at their respective colleges.”

The annual ADL Audit is broken down into three categories — assaults, vandalism and harassment, threats and events — with information compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders. The watchdog organization has been recording antisemitic incidents since 1979.

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