As anti-Semitism in the United States hit a record high in 2019, New York and New Jersey were hardest hit with a 106 percent rise in anti-Semitic assaults in New York and a 73 percent increase in incidents in New Jersey, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit published Tuesday.
National figures show there were an average of six anti-Semitic incidents every day in the United States as a whole in 2019, with physical assaults against Jews up more than 50 percent from 2018.
New York, home to the largest Jewish population in the United States, is leading the ADL’s figures for anti-Semitic incidents with 430 incidents – a 26 percent rise compared to the year before. The number of physical assaults against Jews in the state jumped 106 percent, from 17 in 2018 to 35 last year.
“Residents of New York and New Jersey were the victims of 37 percent of all incidents registered in our country, including two deadly attacks and 41 assaults,” Alexander Rosemberg, deputy regional director of ADL’s New York/New Jersey area, told Haaretz.
“No population should have to endure such hate, and we call on leaders everywhere to put a stop to it, and to people of good faith everywhere to become ambassadors against hate,” he aded.
The majority of assaults – 25 out of 35 – occurred in Brooklyn, which the ADL described as a “hot spot for anti-Semiticactivity.” Additional assaults occurred in Queens, the Bronx, Nassau, Rockland and Orange counties.
Of New York’s 430 anti-Semitic incidents, more than half – 238 – fall under vandalism, mostly involving the drawing of swastikas in public areas including parks, public transit, sidewalks and playgrounds. This, the ADL said, is “an indication that perpetrators continue to feel emboldened to act on their hate out in the open.”
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Harassment, defined as a situation in which a Jewish person or group of people “feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of another person or group,” represented 157 incidents in New York state in 2019.
New York City is undoubtedly the epicenter for the state’s anti-Semitic incidents: as many as 75 percent of the incidents took place in the Big Apple last year. The city’s five boroughs also accounted for all but two of the assaults.
Beyond the city itself, incidents were also recorded in Long Island and Westchester, Upstate and Rockland County, where five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s Hanukkah party in Monsey in late December. One of the victims, Josef Neumann, died of his injuries three months later.
In New Jersey, home to over 500,000 Jews, anti-Semitism incidents are on the rise as well.
According to the ADL’s audit, New Jersey experienced “dramatic increases” in anti-Semitic incidents – 345 – across all categories last year (a 73 percent rise). This was the most ever recorded in the Garden State, and the second-highest number recorded in any state last year.
Anti-Semitic vandalism in New Jersey increased 72 percent (179 incidents in 2019 compared to 104 incidents in 2018); harassment increased 71 percent (161 incidents compared to 94 in 2018); and assaults rose 150 percent: from only two in 2018 to five in 2019, including the deadly shooting attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City on December 10.
“We are alarmed by the dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey,” Rosemberg said. “The deadly shooting attack in Jersey City, followed by the subsequent stabbing attack at a rabbi’s home just across the border in Monsey, New York, demonstrate that incidents are not only increasing, but they are becoming more violent as well.”
Another point of concern for the ADL in New Jersey was the sharp increase in incidents that occurred in K-12 schools last year. This number jumped from 63 incidents in 2018 to 97 incidents in 2019, a 54 percent increase.
This was the second year in a row that anti-Semitic incidents increased in New Jersey’s K-12 schools. Incidents at New Jersey colleges and universities also nearly doubled in 2019: from eight recorded occurrences in 2018 to 14 in 2019.
The rise in incidents in New Jersey schools and college campuses, Rosemberg said, “tells us that there is much work to be done to educate young people about hate, bias, and stereotypes more broadly.”
The ADL’s audit of anti-Semitism in New Jersey also addressed online anti-Semitic harassment. Social media forums such as the now-removed Facebook page Rise Up Ocean County have actively spread anti-Jewish hate, targeting mostly Orthodox residents of Lakewood, Jackson and Toms River.
Notably, Ocean County was the county with the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey, with a 157 percent increase in incidents in 2019.
“This surge in incidents, which coincides with the apparent establishment of Rise Up Ocean County in October 2018, only underscores the continued need to combat hate online,” the ADL document stated.
Along with Ocean County, 19 of 21 counties in New Jersey reported acts of anti-Semitism in 2019. Fourteen of them recorded an increase compared to 2018.
Beyond the Jersey City shooting, examples of incidents in New Jersey included: swastika vandalism discovered inside a residence hall at Rutgers University; cars and properties defaced with anti-Semitic stickers; Jewish children assaulted by two boys who yelled “Hitler” while throwing pebbles at them; and over 150 tires slashed on vehicles belonging to Orthodox Jews in Lakewood.
Although the numbers showed dramatic and unprecedented increases, the ADL warned that underreporting of anti-Semitic incidents “continues to be a challenge in many communities, as victims of bias crimes and anti-Semitic incidents are often reluctant to come forward.”
Some of the responsibility for this, the group said, also lies with local law enforcement agencies, who are not reporting hate crimes to the FBI. In 2018, only 12.6 percent of reporting agencies in New York reported one or more hate crimes to the FBI.
“While voluntary, ADL strongly encourages law enforcement agencies to report hate crime statistics to the FBI,” the group said. “ADL continues to work with elected officials, law enforcement leaders and community members across New York to tackle these problems head-on in the years ahead.”
In New Jersey, however, much effort has been put into reporting of incidents. The ADL attributed the state’s increase in anti-Semitic incidents to the implementation of the New Jersey attorney general’s new “live reporting” system, allowing for easier reporting of hate crimes.
“However, while better reporting may have been one factor in the increase, this alone is likely not sufficient to account for the enormous jump in incidents recorded last year,” the organization stressed.