ADL audit: Anti-Semitic incidents at ‘troubling’ level

ADL audit: Anti-Semitic incidents at ‘troubling’ level

132 in New Jersey in 2009

Etzion Neuer

The Anti-Defamation League released its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents on
Tuesday – with a significant change from earlier years.

The organization is taking a more conservative approach to counting certain types of incidents, including graffiti and swastikas.

“We know that the swastika has, for some, lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalized symbol of hate,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. “So we are being more careful to include graffiti incidents that specifically target Jews or Jewish institutions as we continue the process of re-evaluating and redefining how we measure anti-Jewish incidents.”

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States has declined since 1,352 were reported in 2008, but some of the decline was likely because of revised methodology for reporting and tracking incidents that was unveiled in the ’09 audit, the ADL said.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States remained at a “sustained and troubling” level.

The audit recorded 1,211 incidents of vandalism, harassment, and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property, and community institutions across the United States.

New Jersey, with 132 incidents, ranked third in the nation, after California, with 275 incidents, and New York, with 209. There had been 238 incidents in 2008.

“We must take solace in the overall decline in incidents,” said Etzion Neuer, ADL New Jersey regional director. “But there is a stubborn resilience to the hatred of anti-Semitism that persists among too many in New Jersey. With all of the advances we have made as a community, we would have hoped that in the 21st century anti-Semitism would be a relic of the past, and yet year after year New Jersey consistently is among the states with the highest number of incidents.”

In this state in 2009, there were 53 incidents of vandalism, 77 incidents of harassment, and two physical assaults. He noted that the 2009 total does not include incidents that would have been categorized as anti-Semitic under the previous audit system. In 2008, before the adoption of enhanced reporting methods, the New Jersey office recorded a total of 238 incidents.

Among the incidents:

“¢ In Montclair, a teenage girl received text messages sent to her phone that included the words “kike,” “dirty jew,” and “jew bitch.” The texter identified himself or herself as “Hitler.” One text warned the girl to “lock her doors and windows”

“¢ In Union City, vandals broke into a Jewish education center, placed two pieces of wood on a desk in the shape of a cross, and set it on fire.

“¢ In Fair Lawn, as families were leaving a synagogue, a passing car slowed down and a passenger yelled, “Six million more! Six million more!”

“¢ In Edison, a 19-year-old walking from from his yeshiva to his home on Rosh HaShanah evening was subjected to anti-Semitic slurs and assaulted. He suffered a concussion.

“¢ And Jewish institutions across New Jersey, including this newspaper, were targeted by protestors from the virulently anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), a small Kansas-based hate group. At these protests, church members held signs stating that “The Jews killed Jesus,” “God Hates Jews,” and “God Hates Israel.” WBC also sent faxes and e-mails with anti-Semitic and anti-gay messages to numerous Jewish institutions and individuals.

Nationwide, the incidents include 29 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 760 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment and threats, and 422 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism, according to the report.

Major incidents included the shooting attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., by an avowed Holocaust denier, which led to the death of a security guard, and a thwarted plot by four Muslim converts to bomb synagogues in Riverdale, N.Y.

The audit noted that 2009 was marked by a severe intensification of anti-Semitic expression on the Internet, including a significant increase in the amount of anti-Semitism found on online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and user-generated content sites such as YouTube.

Jewish Standard/JTA

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