April 24 (UPI) -- Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, including vandalism and assaults, increased 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the Anti-Defamation League revealed Monday.
The civil rights organization said its audit indicated that 541 incidents -- including vandalism, harassment and assaults -- occurred in the first quarter of the year, a 34 percent increase over 2015, which had a total of 1,266 incidents. Nearly 30 percent of 2016's incidents occurred in November and December, and the audit included 161 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions.
The heightened political atmosphere of the 2016 presidential election was involved in the increase in incidents in late 2016, the ADL report said. The organization said it could directly link 34 incidents to the election. In one incidences of vandalism, graffiti in Denver read "Kill the Jews, Vote Trump."
The ADL said that though the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses did not rise, they increased by 106 percent at non-Jewish elementary, middle and high schools nationwide.
"Schools are a microcosm of the country," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL, in the report "Children absorb messages from their parents and the media, and bring them into their schools and playgrounds. We are very concerned the next generation is internalizing messages of intolerance and bigotry."
The increases noted in the audit come as there is a worldwide decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents. Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary Jewry surveyed 40 countries and found incidents fell 12 percent worldwide and 61 percent in France. There were increases in Britain, Australia and the United States.