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ADL: NY LEADS THE NATION IN REPORTED INCIDENTS OF HATE AGAINST JEWS DESPITE SLIGHT STATEWIDE DECREASE IN 2020
Annual ADL Audit tracks 2,000+ antisemitic incidents across the U.S., third–highest annual total on record
New York, NY, April 27, 2021… According to new data released by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today, antisemitic incidents remained at a historically high level across the United States last year, with a total of 2,024 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported, making 2020 the third-highest year for reported antisemitic incidents since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. New York continues to lead the nation in terms of total reported antisemitic incidents, despite an overall 22% decrease in incidents reported in 2020 relative to 2019.
In a year of significant hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ADL documented 336 antisemitic incidents across New York State. Though certain categories of reported antisemitic incidents declined – antisemitic assaults, for example, decreased 66% in 2020 – there was a sharp increase in documented incidents directed against Jewish institutions, up 76%, from 25 incidents in 2019 to 44 in 2020. New York State’s total number of antisemitic incidents in 2020 represents a 22% decrease in the state’s average number of incidents recorded over the last 11 years.
“While it is always a welcome sign to see a decline in reported antisemitic incidents, the sad reality is that even with social distancing and physical separation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, antisemitic incidents continued to occur at near historic levels, with many incidents happening online,” said Scott Richman, Regional Director, ADL New York/New Jersey. “As the data shows us, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat antisemitic words, behaviors, attitudes and actions in order to stem the rising tide of hate directed towards the Jewish community.”
Since 1979, ADL has documented antisemitism through its annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.
In 2020, ADL’s Audit revealed the following in New York State:
- 171 incidents of vandalism;
- 153 incidents of harassment; and
- 12 incidents of assault.
Following a historic number of reported antisemitic assaults in 2019, these attacks decreased by 66% in New York in 2020, which may be due, at least in part, to strict public health guidelines put in place in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 12 assaults reported, 11 occurred in Brooklyn, which continues to be a hotspot for antisemitic activity. An additional assault took place in Manhattan.
Of particular concern was a significant 76% increase in documented antisemitic incidents against Jewish institutions, up from 25 incidents in 2019 to 44 incidents in 2020. These incidents targeting Jewish institutions included 28 documented incidents of harassment, up from 12 incidents in 2019, and 16 documented incidents of vandalism, up from 13 incidents in 2019. Temples or Jewish Community Centers in 10 different counties were targets of either antisemitic harassment or vandalism, with 14 incidents occurring over Zoom, and 9 incidents involving a swastika.
Of the 238 incidents of antisemitic vandalism reported in New York State in 2020, 68 incidents took place in public areas and 36 took place at residences or houses. Thirty-six percent of all documented vandalism incidents involved the display of a swastika, which has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols, antisemitism, and white supremacy for most of the world.
Most reported antisemitic incidents were documented during the first three months of 2020, just prior to and at the beginning of the global pandemic. These numbers decreased significantly throughout the rest of the year, following COVID-19 social distancing and public health directives.
Of the total number of antisemitic incidents reported in New York State, 69% took place in the five boroughs of New York City. And of the 230 incidents that took place specifically in New York City, 113 were incidents of vandalism, 105 were incidents of harassment and 12 were incidents of assault.
Reported antisemitic incidents increased by a staggering 92% Staten Island and 22% on Long Island, but decreased by 40% in Brooklyn. Reported antisemitic incidents in Rockland County remained consistent for the third year in a row.
Antisemitic incidents by area:
- Manhattan: 82
- Brooklyn: 90
- Queens: 24
- Bronx: 9
- Staten Island: 25
- Long Island: 56 [Nassau: 36; Suffolk: 20]
- Westchester: 18
- Rockland: 4
- Upstate: 28
Acts of antisemitism have touched communities in 23 of the 62 counties in New York State.
ZOOMBOMBING & SCAPEGOATING
The year was dramatically impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led in some cases to Jews and other marginalized communities being blamed or scapegoated for spreading the virus. After the pandemic became more widespread starting in March 2020, incidents of antisemitism at schools and colleges nationally and in New York dropped precipitously, as learning moved online.
This corresponded with an increase in incidents of antisemitic “Zoombombing” – the intentional disruption of live videoconferences. In 2020, ADL recorded 196 antisemitic Zoombombing incidents nationally. Of those incidents, 114 targeted Jewish institutions such as schools and synagogues. In New York, there were 21 reported antisemitic “Zoombombing” incidents, with 14 targeting Jewish institutions and four targeting K-12 schools and colleges.
Antisemitic incidents continued to occur online in New York, increasing 57%, up from 14 documented incidents in 2019 to 22 incidents in 2020. These online incidents included the use of swastikas, disparaging commentary about Israel directed towards Jews, blaming the Jewish community for COVID-19, and calling Jewish people dirty who “deserve to be inside a gas chamber.”
ELECTION RELATED HATE & COVID-19 RELATED INCIDENTS
Last year, ADL tracked two new categories of antisemitic incidents: incidents related to the election and incidents related to COVID-19. In New York, there were 9 documented antisemitic election-related incidents and one documented antisemitic COVID-19-related incident. These two categories demonstrate the continued ways in which the Jewish community is often blamed or scapegoated for political unrest and public health crises.
In 2020, most antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools and on college campuses in New York took place during the first three months of the year. Those numbers dropped precipitously as educational institutions across the state switched to remote learning.
The number of antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools—19—decreased 56% relative to 2019. The majority of these incidents were acts of vandalism, followed by several incidents of harassment and assault—15 and 4, respectively.
“Students across New York state deserve a safe school environment, both in person and remotely, and while the numbers have decreased, it is disheartening to think that one of the reasons they did so was because students were physically separated from one another,” Richman said. “Our ultimate goal is helping to create safe and inclusive school climates to ensure no student suffers from bias, discrimination or hate, and we look forward to continuing our work with educators in New York to help them combat antisemitism and all forms of hate.”
Campus and University
New York State’s universities and colleges also experienced a decrease in antisemitic incidents, down 35% to 15 incidents in 2020. Thirteen were incidents of vandalism and two were incidents of harassment.
Underreporting continues to be a challenge in many communities, as victims of bias crimes and antisemitic incidents – particularly those in marginalized communities – face significant barriers to reporting hate crimes in the first instance. At the same time, we know that there is significant underreporting of hate crimes to the FBI, particularly where reporting remains voluntary by law enforcement agencies. In 2019, just 12% of reporting agencies in New York reported one or more hate crimes to the FBI. While voluntary, ADL strongly encourages law enforcement agencies to report hate crime statistics to the FBI. ADL continues to work with elected officials, law enforcement leaders and community members across New York to tackle these problems head-on.
ADL encourages all members of the public to report incidents of antisemitism directly to ADL here: Report an Antisemitic, Bias or Discriminatory Incident
EXTREMISM RELATED & WHITE SUPREMACIST INCIDENTS
White supremacist groups continued to maintain an active presence in New York in 2020, using propaganda to communicate their hateful messages more broadly. In 2020, ADL documented 308 white supremacist propaganda distribution incidents in New York State. This represents a 79% increase from 172 incidents recorded in the state in 2019. Although only 32 propaganda distributions were overtly antisemitic and included in the Audit, all forms of white supremacist activity have the potential to provoke fear and anxiety in Jewish communities.
Twenty-eight of the 32 documented propaganda distributions had connections to one group, the New Jersey European Heritage Association, a New Jersey-based white supremacist group, which espouses racism, antisemitism and intolerance under the guise of “saving” white European peoples from purported imminent distinction.
Nationally, ADL recorded 331 antisemitic incidents attributed to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology. This represents 16% of the total number of incidents in the country. White supremacist groups were responsible for 277 antisemitic propaganda distributions.
To learn more about white supremacist propaganda distribution in 2020, click here.
ISRAEL & ZIONISM RELATED INCIDENTS
In New York, 16 documented antisemitic incidents involved references to Israel or Zionism, down 16% from 19 documented incidents in 2019. These included comments telling Jewish individuals to “go back to Auschwitz or Israel,” wishing “death to Israel,” and stating that Israel and Jewish people “control the U.S.”
Nationally, a total of 178 antisemitic incidents last year involved references to Israel or Zionism, compared to 175 in 2019. Of those, 38 appeared in connection with white supremacist propaganda efforts, which often attempt to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has compiled the 2020 data, as well as data from the previous two years, on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart antisemitic incidents and events nationally and regionally. To learn more, click here: ADL H.E.A.T. MAP.
How ADL is Responding
ADL has a comprehensive approach to addressing antisemitic incidents and behavior. This includes prevention efforts through youth education, as well as working to enact laws to improve federal, state and local prevention tactics and response to antisemitic hate crimes and all forms of hate violence.
ADL also partners with law enforcement to raise awareness of extremist threats and help law enforcement professionals recognize and disrupt potential threats. ADL likewise provides education and training every day to students, reaching young people at a time when they are most vulnerable to bullying and social pressures. ADL works with victims and universities to respond to antisemitic harassment and other worrying incidents on college campuses. Finally, ADL’s No Place for Hate and Words to Action programs teach understanding and promote inclusivity in schools and on campuses.
In response to the historic rise in antisemitic incidents over the past four years, ADL has made the following policy recommendations:
- Nationwide, public officials and civic leaders should use their bully pulpits to speak out against antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism.
- Congress should increase funding for non-profit security grants for synagogues and other houses of worship, schools, and community centers.
- Policymakers must support efforts to provide law enforcement officials with the tools they need to prevent and effectively respond to hate crimes. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies should also improve their procedures for responding to and reporting hate crimes.
- Congress should approve the pending Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act and fully fund Section 4704 of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to support state and local law enforcement authorities investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
- School districts should promote anti-bias, bullying prevention and Holocaust education programs in elementary and secondary schools. University leadership should respond firmly and forcefully to antisemitic acts on college campuses, including incidents that target Jewish students because of their actual or perceived support of the state of Israel.
- Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, state legislators and mayors should increase funding for anti-bias education to promote an inclusive school climate.
- In response to the rising threat of domestic extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at our nation’s Capitol, ADL recently announced the PROTECT plan, which outlines a whole of society approach to address this pernicious threat.
The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.
The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents is a project of ADL’s Center on Extremism, whose work is supported in part by the following generous donors as well as numerous others: The ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Antisemitism, Anonymous, Roman Abramovich, Catena Foundation, Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, David Berg Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, The Nancy K. Silverman Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New England Revolution Foundation, Quadrivium Foundation, Zegar Family Foundation.
ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. More at www.adl.org.