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Antisemitic incidents are at an all-time high, the ADL reports

The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, was the site of an attack by British national Malik Faisal Akram, who was in a 10-hour hostage standoff with law enforcement. A new report by the Anti-Defamation League says antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose 36% in 2022.
Brandon Wade
The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, was the site of an attack by British national Malik Faisal Akram, who was in a 10-hour hostage standoff with law enforcement. A new report by the Anti-Defamation League says antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose 36% in 2022.

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose 36% in 2022, an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League shows.

The report, released Thursday, tracked 3,697 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault targeting Jewish people and communities last year. It is the third time in five years that the tally has been the highest number ever recorded since the ADL first began collecting data in 1979.

"This escalation in antisemitic incidents comes just as ADL has reported on Americans' highest level of antisemitic attitudes in decades," the report says, adding that public officials, famous artists and social media stars have been instrumental in normalizing longstanding antisemitic tropes.

The ADL report comes on the heels of an FBI report earlier this month, stating that hate crimes reported across the country increased nearly 12% in 2021 from 2020.

5 states account for more than half of the incidents

According to the latest ADL analysis, surges in each of the major audit categories occurred in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Antisemitic harassment increased 29%, from 1,776 to 2,298
  • Antisemitic vandalism increased 51%, from 853 to 1,288
  • Antisemitic assaults increased 26%, from 88 to 111
  • New York is the state with the highest number of reported incidents: 580. California follows with 518, New Jersey with 408, Florida with 269 and Texas with 211. "Combined, these five states account for 54 % of the total incidents."

    Schools and synagogues are growing targets

    Another alarming finding is the number of bomb threats towards Jewish institutions, including schools and synagogues, spiking from eight to 91. It is the highest number of bomb threats since 2017.

    Young children and educators in K-12 schools were victims of threats or assaults in 494 incidents. Meanwhile, 219 incidents were reported on college campuses.

    People who presented as Orthodox Jews were targeted in 59 of the assault incidents nationally.

    The Goyim Defense League is behind more than half of all propaganda incidents

    The ADL also found activity doubled among organized white supremacist groups, which were linked to 852 incidents of distributing antisemitic propaganda.

    While the study cites a number of factors contributing to the surge, the organization concluded the massive uptick in the spread of anti-Jewish propaganda was "largely due to the growth of the Goyim Defense League," known as the GDL.

    The GDL network, which has significant crossover with other white supremacist groups and movements, was responsible for at least 492 propaganda incidents in 2022, a dramatic increase from the 74 recorded in 2021.

    As NPR's Here & Now reported, "GDL members have been accused of stalking, aggravated assault, murder, terror threats, threatening public officials, vandalism, soliciting sex from minors and defacing a memorial for the Pulse nightclub shooting victims in Florida."

    Ye's social media attacks inspired dozens of incidents

    The artist formerly known as Kanye West, who in October 2022 made conspiratorial statements about Jews and praised Adolf Hitler while denying facts about the Holocaust on social media, is also to blame for dozens of antisemitic attacks, the ADL said.

    "The impact of Ye's comments was felt on the ground across the country," according to the report.

    "Fifty-nine antisemitic incidents from October 11 through the end of 2022 directly referenced Ye, including 44 cases of harassment, 13 cases of vandalism and two cases of assault."

    (Twitter suspended Ye's account after the rapper/mogul posted an image of a swastika depicted inside a Star of David.)

    The findings are a call to action

    The audit, the organization said, should serve as a wake-up call to government officials. The ADL called on leaders to condemn antisemitic incidents outright. It also urged them to launch "a concerted whole-of-government, whole-of-society response" that would include blocking antisemitism online.

    "Public officials and civic leaders — from the President, to governors, attorneys general, mayors, other civic leaders, and law enforcement authorities — must use their bully pulpits to speak out against antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism," the report said.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Vanessa Romo
    Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.