The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) provided a briefing webinar on March 31 about the their latest audit of Antisemitic incidents.
ADL Center on Extremism Director Aryeh Tuchman said on the webinar that the audit, which is conducted through people reporting antisemitic incidents to the organization and then the ADL verifying the reports, “enables us to quantify exactly what is happening in the American Jewish community.” The ADL recorded 3,697 antisemitic incidents in 2022, with increases in category.
The biggest increase was in white supremacist activity, Tuchman said. “There are networks of a small number of antisemites… who organize themselves with the express purpose of expressing propaganda, leaflets, flyers with antisemitic content,” he said. Harassment and vandalism also saw increases 29% and 51%, respectively in 2022, per Tuchman, and 53% of assaults targeted Haredi Jews.
ADL Antisemitic Incident Specialist Emily Snider provided more specifics about the assaults, pointing out that out of the 111 assaults recorded by the ADL, 72 occurred in New York. Only one person was killed from antisemitism: a professor at the University of Arizona who was shot and killed by a former student who thought he was Jewish. Five assaults took place at K-12 schools; a couple of examples included a high school student pushing a student against a fence while shouting “f—ing Jew” and a Jewish student at a middle school being punched while subjected to anti-Israel and antisemitic slurs.
Snider also pointed out 33% of antisemitic incidents occurred in public spaces, which she partly attributed to “the doubling of white supremacist propaganda distribution.” There were 589 antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish institutions in 2022, an increase from 525 in 2021 and 327 in 2020; nine of these incidents were assaults, which included congregants being shot at with a BB gun. Synagogues were the most targeted Jewish institution, but Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) were the most targeted by bomb threats. “We all know Jewish Community Centers don’t just impact one aspect of our community,” Snider said. “These are the centers are the life and breath of the Jewish community.” There was a 30% decrease in anti-Israel and anti-Zionism incidents in 2022, but Snider attributed that to the fact that 2021 saw a spike in such incidents as a result of the Israel-Hamas conflict in May of that year.
On college campuses, there were 219 antisemitic incidents in 2022, an increase from 155 in 2021 and 128 in 2020; 33% of the antisemitic incidents in 2022 involved swastikas and 25% of antisemitic incidents targeted Hillels. Snider described Hillels as the “center of Jewish life” on campus and thus it brings “fear” to Jewish students when Hillels are targeted. Campuses have also had to deal with “radical anti-Israel sentiment,” Snider said, citing examples of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) rally attendee throwing a rock at a Hillel in April 2022 and in March 2022 an SJP speaker said at off-campus rally, “Demand that Zionist professors are not welcome on campuses!” and called Zionism a “genocidal threat to us.” The crowd then chanted, “We don’t want no Zionists here.”
“Calls like this have a tremendously negative effect on Jewish life,” Snider said, adding that they essentially “Jewish people responsible for the actions of Israel.”
Snider also expressed concern over The Mapping Project, which called for “dismantling organizations in Massachusetts that are complicit in Zionism.” The project called for disrupting 500 entities, including a Jewish high school and a synagogue, and posted their addresses. Snider said there was “concern” over whether these locations would be subjected to attack as a result.
During the Question-and-Answer (Q&A) session, Tuchman was asked if the record-high amount of antisemitic incidents is the result of a higher volume of reporting. “We can’t really draw large scale explanations for whether incidents are going up or whether they’re being reported because we can’t necessarily understand the larger context around these events,” Tuchman acknowledged. However, he expressed their confidence in being able to track assaults and vandalism since they could be more easily verified through media and law enforcement. Overall, Tuchman didn’t think that higher reporting “dramatically” affected their numbers.
He attributed the rise in antisemitism in America to a “small number of determined people who are trying to terrorize us.” At the beginning of the webinar, Tuchman had said: “Without minimizing the importance of these numbers … we cannot let them terrorize us, the Jewish communities in the United States. We should be proud. We should be confident and we really are secure.” Instead, the numbers should be “a call to action to make sure our Jewish institutions are protected” rather than a “call to hide,” Tuchman argued.
The webinar concluded with a guest appearance from Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, an ADL Special Advisor on Security, who was one of the four hostages in the Colleyville crisis in January 2022. He explained that while he was in Colleyville, that hostage crisis was the only major antisemitic incident he had experienced there and he now lives in Winston-Salem, NC. The rabbi stressed the importance of establishing relationships with local law enforcement and the regional ADL office as well as reporting incidents. “We don’t have to live in fear,” Cytron-Walker said.