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Antisemitic incidents in the US reached record high last year, up 140% from 2022, ADL says

Demonstrators in support of Israel gather to denounce antisemitism and call for the release of Israeli hostages, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2023.
Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Demonstrators in support of Israel gather to denounce antisemitism and call for the release of Israeli hostages, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2023.

(CNN) — The Anti-Defamation League tracked 8,873 antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2023 – the highest number of incidents reported since the organization began tracking data in 1979, according to the organization’s annual audit of antisemitism released Tuesday.

Last year, the number of antisemitic incidents outpaced the all-time high set in 2022 by 140%, the Jewish civil rights advocacy group said. The more than 8,800 incidents of antisemitism tracked by the group included harassment, vandalism and assault is a dramatic increase from the nearly 3,700 cases reported in 2022.

The majority of the incidents documented by the ADL – 6,535 – were cases of harassment, which the group describes as instances when either one or more Jewish people, or people perceived as Jewish, are harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. This category includes online and in-person incidents. The group also tracked 2,177 cases of vandalism and 161 assault incidents.

The audit shows there was a dramatic upward trend of incidents after the start of the Israel-Hamas war.  Between October 7 and December 31, there were 5,204 incidents, according to the audit.

The ADL said it updated its methodology for the audit after the start of the war to include certain expressions of opposition to Zionism as well as support for resistance against Israel or Zionists “that could be perceived as supporting terrorism or attacks on Jews, Israelis or Zionists.” A total of 1,350 incidents were included as a result of the methodology’s update, according to the audit.

“When they occur during public activism (such as at protests), in confrontations between individuals or in the form of vandalism (such as graffiti), these expressions constitute an implicit attack on the great majority of American Jews who view a relationship with Israel to be an important part of their religious, cultural and/or social identities,” the ADL said in the audit findings.

The ADL said it also tracked 1,352 anti-Israel rallies where antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric was observed after October 7.

The advocacy group said “legitimate political protest, support for Palestinian rights or expressions of opposition to Israeli policies” were not included in the audit as well as most physical scuffles or verbal insults between protestors “unless the context suggests an antisemitic or anti-Zionist motivation for the assaults.”

While the audit includes all cases of picketing of Jewish institutions for their perceived or real support for Israel, the ADL says it does not include “protests outside pro-Israel political activist groups or Israeli embassies/consulates unless those protests incorporate anti-Zionism, support for terrorism, or classic antisemitic tropes.”

The report highlights antisemitic incidents by locations, including 1,162 cases in K-12 schools. Last year, there were also 1,987 incidents at Jewish institutions, which the ADL says were driven by bomb threats at synagogues and other institutions starting in the summer.

A total of 922 incidents were reported at colleges and universities and most took place after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the ADL said.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, described the wave of antisemitism as “nothing short of a national emergency” and called for immediate action from governors across the nation.

“Jewish Americans are being targeted for who they are at school, at work, on the street, in Jewish institutions and even at home,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “This crisis demands immediate action from every sector of society and every state in the union. We need every governor to develop and put in place a comprehensive strategy to fight antisemitism, just as the administration has done at the national level.”

As part of its audit, the ADL included policy recommendations for federal and state leaders. At the federal level, the ADL called for support for the Countering Antisemitism Act, which was introduced in Congress earlier this month, CNN previously reported.

For state governments, the ADL suggest leaders should publicly commit to combat antisemitism and launch strategies to increase understanding of antisemitism, safety for Jewish communities and solidarity.

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