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Anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. more than doubled in 2018, ADL reports

The report comes days after a 19-year-old man opened fire in a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one.
Image: Mourner
A mourner stands in front of a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 29, 2018.Matt Rourke / AP file

Anti-Semitic assaults in the United States more than doubled in 2018 and anti-Semitic incidents overall remain near all-time highs, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL, which tracks anti-Semitic and other hate incidents in the U.S., recorded 1,879 such occurrences against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018, ranging from vandalism to harassment. That compared to a high of 1,979 such incidents in 2017.

The incidents occurred around the country but were concentrated in areas with large Jewish populations.

“We unfortunately saw this trend continue into 2019 with the tragic shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the league's CEO, said in a statement, referring to the deadly attack Saturday in the San Diego area that killed one and injured three.

The organization also reported that 59 people were victims in 39 different anti-Semitic assaults in 2018. That is up 105 percent over the number of assaults in 2017.

Among the victims in 2018 were the 11 murdered in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.

Of all incidents of anti-Semitism, terrorism, and extremism in 2018 up to the present in 2019, the ADL classified only six as springing from “left-wing” or “Islamist” ideology, while 1,794 were classified as “right wing (anti-government, white supremacist, or other).”

Jill Jacobs, a rabbi and executive director of the rabbinic human rights organization T’ruah, emphasized that anti-Semitism is not new.

“What is new is that people who maybe had to whisper what they were thinking are now feeling emboldened to speak loudly, find each other on the Internet, and take up arms and commit some horrific hate crimes,” Jacobs said.

Danya Ruttenberg, a prominent rabbi and author based in Chicago, said she is “heartbroken and sickened and worried” about the rise in anti-Semitism, but “not surprised” in the current political environment.

“We need to understand the unique nature of anti-Semitism and not gloss over the way it functions differently than other oppression — and we need everybody to show up in solidarity with one another because that's the only way we will be able to defeat hatred with love,” she said.

“All of our communities are learning about anti-black racism, Islamophobia, and other forms of prejudice that are rearing their ugly heads,’ Jacobs said.

When those communities stand together, like they did after the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand in March, Jacobs said, they are most effective in fighting prejudice and oppression.