Anti-Semitism incidents decline in 2012, ADL reports

Last year saw fewer anti-Semitic incidents in California than in 2011, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents” issued Monday.

In 2012, 185 incidents took place in California, marking a 21-percent decline from the 235 incidents reported in 2011, the reports says.

“We are pleased to see a decline in anti-Semitic incidents around the country and happy to relinquish California’s standing as the state with the most overall incidents,” Amanda Susskind, regional director of the ADL Pacific Southwest office, told the Journal. This was the first time in three years that California fell from first to second in the ADL’s ranking of states where anti-Semitic incidents have taken place. New York state had the largest number.

California’s decline coincides with an overall decrease in the nationwide number of anti-Semitic incidents: In 2012, 927 anti-Semitic incidents occurred throughout the U.S., declining 14-percent from the 1,080 reported in 2011. This marks the third consecutive year that the national total has decreased.

Graphic courtesy ADL

Incidents included in the audit by the civil rights and human relations agency encompass  assaults, vandalism and harassment – both criminal and non-criminal – that were reported to the ADL in 35 states and Washington, D.C.

Nationwide, the 2012 total included 17 physical assaults, 470 cases of harassment, threats and events and 440 cases of vandalism.

The number of physical assaults — person-on-person violence — remained steady: 17 incidents were reported in 2012, a decrease of only 2 incidents compared with 2011. By contrast, cases of harassments, threats and events decreased sharply – from 470 incidents in 2012, down from 731 in 2011 – and vandalism increased by 33-percent, with 440 incidents reported in 2012, compared with 330 the previous year.

The data is compiled from reports to the ADL by victims, law enforcement and community leaders. ADL evaluates each incident and corroborates the account with law enforcement and media reports before counting it in the audit. The report only includes online events in which a specific individual or organization has been targeted.

While the nationwide number of incidents in the report are down, Susskind said, accounts of anti-Semitism on the Web – which is nearly impossible to quantify, she said – appears to be on the rise.

“As we track crimes and incidents, including assaults, vandalism and harassment, we are troubled by the increasingly insurmountable challenge of monitoring cyberspace, where hate can be anonymous and ubiquitous,” Susskind said.

Vandalism incidents in California increased 12-percent. Among the notable incidents was a highly publicized case in Northridge, in which a mother drove her 14-year-old daughter and two teenaged friends to the home of a classmate who is Jewish and waited in the car while the girls defaced the home with anti-Jewish symbols and smeared feces on the family’s property. The mother later pleaded guilty to several criminal charges and was ordered to complete community service, and the girls were ordered by a juvenile court to complete community service.