Anti-Semitic incidents escalated in 2017, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, surging nearly 60 percent nationwide and more than 90 percent in New York state alone.
This is the largest single-year increase on record since the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) began tracking data on anti-Semitic incidents in the 1970s, the organization said when it released its annual report on Tuesday.
New York state saw 380 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, from physical assaults and vandalism to harassment and attacks on Jewish institutions, the report found. That’s up from 199 such incidents in 2016.
“The numbers are just so high. … These are trends that we just don’t like to see,” said Evan R. Bernstein, ADL New York regional director. “We’ve always had spikes, issues of up and down, but these kind of sustained spikes — especially with the enormity of them— this is something very very difficult for us to accept."
New York had more incidents than any other state, but it wasn’t alone in experiencing more anti-Semitism. At least one incident was reported in all 50 states in 2017 — an occurrence that hasn’t happened in at least a decade, according to the ADL.
The states with the most reports of incidents were New York, California (268 reports), New Jersey (208), Massachusetts (177), Florida (98) and Pennsylvania (96).
Nationwide, the ADL received reports on 1,015 incidents of harassment (including 163 bomb threats against Jewish institutions), a 41 percent jump from the year before; 952 incidents of vandalism, an 86 percent increase from 2016; and 19 physical assaults, which was a 47 percent decrease from the prior year.
Schools and college campuses were the settings for a big increase in this anti-Semitism. In Massachusetts, there was an 86 percent surge in anti-Semitic incidents occurring in schools, with 93 incidents reported in 2017. In 2016, 50 incidents were reported in Massachusetts schools.
Across the country, reports in schools nearly doubled in 2017, for the second year in a row.
To Bernstein, the trend in schools is particularly harrowing, because it shows these kids may be learning this behavior from what they see online.
“When you see a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in New York from K through 12, a 130 percent increase on college campuses [in New York] last year, that really makes me take pause," he said. “These are the next future leaders of the state of New York and this country. This is the attitude shift being made now, and it’s something we have to get in front of."
The ADL doesn't think that there are more anti-Semites in America — Bernstein said the organization tracks these numbers, and he believes they're staying consistent at about 10 to 12 percent of the population. But events in 2017, from Charlottesville to white supremacist flyers showing up on college campuses, have led to an "emboldening" of these hate groups for a variety of reasons, he said.
After hearing more concerns about anti-Semitism spreading in 2016, the ADL did step up its frequency of reporting to share data more often throughout the year. People are reporting more often to the ADL than ever before, the organization said.
The ADL is responding to this surge in reports with anti-bias education programs and collaborations with law enforcement, training 15,000 law enforcement officials per year.
To those who see this news and feel disheartened, Bernstein encouraged them to reach out to their local officials so that those in politics take this trend more seriously.
And to those who may not think this news affects them, Bernstein noted that "hate is hate."
"One thing I try to do is let people know that if it's happening to the Jews, these incidents, it's certainly happening, and is happening, to other groups as well," he said. "It's important that we all stand together in these moments and build bridges."
Anti-Semitic incidents by area in New York state in 2017:
- Manhattan: 99
- Brooklyn: 80
- Queens: 39
- Bronx: 9
- Staten Island: 7
- Long Island: 62
- Westchester: 18
- Rockland County: 12
- Upstate: 54