ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents up by 21 percent

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by 21 percent in 2014, with California reporting the second highest number, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of anti-Semitism.

The organization counted 912 anti-Semitic incidents last year, up from 751 in 2013, with a surge in the period around last summer’s Gaza war. The tally included 36 cases of assault or other violence, 363 incidents of vandalism, and 513 cases of harassment, threats and events.

“2014 was a particularly violent year for Jews both overseas and in the United States,” Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director, said in a statement. “Lethal anti-Semitism continues to pose a threat to American Jews and larger society as well.”

The count includes a wide variety of incidents, ranging from the shooting spree last April at a pair of Jewish institutions in Kansas that left three people dead to swastika graffiti, vandalized menorahs, personal spats involving anti-Semitic rants, offensive postings on social media and anti-Semitic letters to the editor.

In the annual tally, compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, the states with the most anti-Semitic incidents correlated, as usual, with the states with the largest Jewish populations. New York led with 231 incidents, followed by California (184 incidents), New Jersey (107), Florida (70) and Pennsylvania (48). Massachu-setts, which placed sixth, counted 47 incidents, one more than in 2013.

Seth Brysk, ADL’s regional director in San Francisco, said that last year’s spike ended a trend that saw such incidents decreasing.

“Any single incident is a terrible thing to endure, for the individual and the community, and last year was particularly notable,” he told J.

What marked the increase last year, he said, was how global events were reflected across the United States and in the Bay Area. He cited as influences the violence in Israel, the Gaza war and ISIS activities, noting, for example, graffiti that appeared on a sign leading to one Bay Area synagogue declaring “mort aux juifs,” French for “death to the Jews.” The fact that the graffiti was written in the language of a country experiencing a rise in anti-Semitic violence was notable, he said.

The number of U.S. anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 was still one of the lowest totals recorded since the ADL began keeping records of them in 1979, the organization said. Certain kinds of attacks, however, are on the rise, notably by hackers on community and synagogue websites. — jta