Anti-Semitic Assaults Down Across U.S. - but Tripled in New York

ADL report: Overall number of anti-Semitic incidents drops 19 percent in U.S., partly because it was a quiet year for anti-Israel activity.

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Archive: A man removing a spray-painted swastika from the gate of a Jewish cemetery.
Archive: A man removing a spray-painted swastika from the gate of a Jewish cemetery.Credit: AP

The number of anti-Semitic violent attacks in New York City more than tripled last year, even as the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents dropped across the United States, including in New York, the Anti-Defamation League reported this week.

The number of physical attacks on Jews in New York rose from six in 2012 to 22 last year, according to the ADL's annual report on anti-Semitism in the United States. Seven of last year's attacks were part of "knockout games," in which assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim.

Jewish victims in Brooklyn included a 72-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl who had a bottle thrown at her by a group of girls, including one who yelled "you dirty Jew" and "these Jews should leave the neighborhood."

"The bottom line is that Jews were targeted because they were Jews," Evan Bernstein, the ADL's New York regional director told the New York Daily News. "The rise of assaults in certain areas of New York City – in particular Brooklyn – is both disturbing and a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism is not just history but remains a current event."

The bulk of anti-Semitic assaults in the United States last year took place in New York. Across the country, there were 31 such assaults, up from 17 in 2012. These included the attack of a Jewish man in Los Angeles who was surrounded by five men who yelled "Heil Hitler!" before striking him. None of the assaults was life-threatening or required hospitalization.

The data on assaults is a dark spot that contrasts with the overall conclusions of the ADL's annual report, which found that 2013 had one of the lowest levels of incidents since the organization began keeping records in 1979. The total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States fell by 19 percent in 2013, continuing a decade-long downward slide, the ADL said.

One reason for that decline is that last year was a relatively quiet year for anti-Israel activity, compared to years in which Israel has been involved in military conflicts, the ADL said. For instance, the report said, the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the 2012 Gaza-Israel conflict spurred hundreds of demonstrations in major cities across the United States that sometimes featured blatantly anti-Semitic slogans, signs and rhetoric.

Because anti-Semitism has found its way into the periphery of the anti-Israel movement in recent years, a decrease in the number of anti-Israel demonstrations on campus and elsewhere translated to a decrease in the anti-Semitism that can accompany such events, said ADL national director Abraham Foxman.

In New York, anti-Semitic incidents – a term that includes vandalism, harassment and threats as well as assaults – dropped 23 percent, to 203 last year.

Other states that saw anti-Semitic incidents drop by about the same proportion include California, which still has a high rate of 143 incidents in 2013, and Florida, where 68 incidents took place. New Jersey saw a more dramatic drop of 55 percent, down from 173 incidents in 2012 to 78 last year.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents doubled in Texas, rising to 18 last year.