American Jews experiencing 'near-historic levels' of anti-Semitism, ADL reports

Anti-Semitic assaults more than doubled, and the U.S. Jewish community experienced “near-historic levels” of anti-Semitism in 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

The data came to light just days after a 19-year-old gunman allegedly used an assault weapon to kill one person and injure three others at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California during a Passover service on Saturday. Exactly six months earlier, the U.S. experienced the deadliest attack against Jews in American history when an alleged white supremacist opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, killing 11 people.

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Last year was the third-highest year on record for attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions since the ADL, an international Jewish non-governmental organization, began tracking such data in the 1970s. The ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the U.S. in 2018, representing a 5 percent decline from the 1,986 incidents recorded in 2017. Nevertheless, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 still remained 48 percent higher than in 2016 and 99 percent higher than in 2015.

“We, unfortunately, saw this trend continue into 2019 with the tragic shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's CEO and national director, said in a news release. “It’s clear we must remain vigilant in working to counter the threat of violent anti-Semitism and denounce it in all forms, wherever the source and regardless of the political affiliation of its proponents."

Acts of aggression against Jewish Americans is partially attributed to a rise in white supremacist propaganda and political extremism nationwide, the ADL stated. The report found 13 percent of ant-Semitism acts in 2018 (249 incidents) were linked to known extremist groups or people inspired by extremist ideology. Of those, 139 incidents were motivated by white supremacy campaigns.

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The ADL classified all incidents of anti-Semitism into three categories: assault, harassment and vandalism. The organization identified 39 incidents of assaults against Jews in 2018, reflecting a 105 percent jump from the 19 incidents in the previous year. While cases of anti-Semitism occurred in all but three of the 50 states, they happened most frequently in states with large Jewish populations, including California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.