An annual audit commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League finds the number of antisemitic incidents reaching a record high in 2021 of 2,717, a 34% increase over the previous year, and the highest number since the audit began in 1979.
"While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking," ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in an ADL press release announcing the findings Tuesday. "Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away."
The May conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted after Israeli police officers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 13, 2021, brushing aside the congregants and cutting the wires to loudspeakers broadcasting prayers on the first night of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, The New York Times reported in November.
The site remains a source of contention for both sides who vie for worshipping rights. Israeli police are under constant threat as a result.
The incident sparked violence that killed 145 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel and led to the first rockets to be fired into Israel in seven years.
The violence in the Middle East led to a 148% surge in violence against Jews in U.S. cities compared to May 2020, the audit found.
Although that violence could be attributed to the conflict going on overseas, there were other surges during the year that did not seem to have a trigger of some kind, according to the report.
"When it comes to antisemitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system, and in many cases, we simply don't know the motivation," Greenblatt said. "But we do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that's a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures."
The audit found the number of assaults on Jewish people increased 167% from 33 in 2020 to 88 in 2021, including 11 with deadly weapons.
Acts of harassment increased 43% in 2021 with 1,776 incidents compared to 1,242 in 2020.
Vandalism also increased 14% in 2021 with 853 incidents compared to 751 incidents in 2020, with more than two thirds of the last year's incidents including hate symbols, according to the study.
According to the ADL, "the ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL's professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported."
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