ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents have declined slightly amid pandemic

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that the pandemic has impacted the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that the pandemic has impacted the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 26 (UPI) -- Last year saw more than 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault across the United States, representing a slight drop from the year before but still among the three worst years on record, the Anti-Defamation League said.

In its yearly Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents report released Tuesday, the anti-hate group said it tallied 2,024 such incidents in the United States last year, a drop of 4% from 2019's record 2,107 incidents and the third highest number since the ADL began keeping count in 1979.


By incident type, there were 1,242 reports of harassment, a 10% increase from a year prior and a jump of nearly 200 such incidents from 2018. Reports of vandalism dropped in 2020 to 751 from 919 in 2019 and reports of assault halved from 61 in 2019 to 31 in 2020.


The report said the number anti-Semitic incidents was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as stay-at-home orders caused schools, university campuses and religious centers to close and lessened the need for daily commutes.

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Last year, the number of incidents at K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities decreased, the report said, with non-Jewish K-12 schools seeing a drop from 411 incidents in 2019 to 161 last year, representing a 61% decrease. Incidents at colleges and universities were down 32% from 186 incidents in 2019 to 128 last year.

The report described the decrease as "dramatic" but expects it to be short lived.

"We expect that as campus life returns to normal, the rates of anti-Semitic incidents in those locations will likely revert to something closer to the numbers seen in the previous years," the report said. "The 2020 data does not indicate a dramatic shift in incident reports in other types of locations."

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However, the report said the pandemic also led to people blaming Jewish and other marginalized communities for the spread of the pandemic as well as to the creation of "Zoombombing," which is when people disrupt webinars or classes with anti-Semitic messages.

The ADL said it recorded 196 such incidents, including 114 targeting religious, educational or cultural webinars conducted by Jewish institutions such as synagogues and schools.


"Sometimes the perpetrators of Zoombombings were hardcore anti-Semites or White supremacists, but incidents appear to have been conducted by individuals without a history of virulent anti-Semitism," the report states.

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By state, New York recorded the most incidents with 336 followed by New Jersey with 295, California with 289, Florida at 127 and Pennsylvania with 101.

The report offers a slew of policy recommendations to decrease the number of such incidents, including strengthening laws against online hate, improving hate crime data collection and promoting the education of hate crimes for law enforcement officials.

"While any decline in the data is encouraging, we still experienced a year in which anti-Semitic acts remained at a disturbingly high level despite lockdown and other significant changes in our daily lives and interactions with others," Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL chief executive and national director, said in a statement. "We can't let our guard down. As communities begin to open up and people spend more time in person with others, we must remain vigilant."

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