The first half of 2017 saw a dramatic rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the United States, the head of the Anti-Defamation League announced at a conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
The number of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence against Jewish individuals, institutions and property jumped 76 percent in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year, Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the ADL, said.
“I would argue it’s happening because we have an environment in which extremists feel emboldened, an environment in which people like David Duke are talked about in the political context and not roundly criticized by serious candidates,” said Greenblatt, referring to the former grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, “and it is an environment in which white supremacists or white nationalists have been literally credentialed for press events, whereas previously they would have been absolutely pushed out.”
While this did not justify calling U.S. President Donald Trump an anti-Semite, Greenblatt said, “it does mean that the people around him see a segment of his political coalition as being one they don’t want to dismiss, and these are some of the people to whom we can attribute some degree of this responsibility.”
Referring to the violent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in August, the ADL leader noted that Trump was “the only person who equivocated on that incident.”
“George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, every member of the Republican establishment and every member of the Democratic establishment, the armed forces of the U.S. governors and mayors, CEOs and celebrities, everyone else was unanimously against it,” he said.
The 2017 figures on anti-Semitism provided by Greenblatt include an unusually large number of bomb threats carried out against Jewish-American institutions in the first quarter of the year by what turned out to be a disturbed American-Israeli teenager. Initially, these attacks had been blamed on neo-Nazi and White Supremacist groups.
Greenblatt did not say how large the increase in incidents would have been had these bomb threats been deducted from the calculation but suggested it was irrelevant.
“Whether or not the perpetrator was American or Israel, Muslim or Jewish, the consequences are still serious,” he said. “Our community feels scared in a way that it wasn’t a year ago, and that’s a problem.”
Greenblatt was addressing a panel at an ADL-organized gathering entitled the “Israel Social Cohesion Summit.”
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