As anti-Semitism Spikes in Brooklyn, ADL to Double Education Program Funding

Funding being boosted for anti-bias efforts in borough that has been epicenter of anti-Semitic incidents in New York City in recent years

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at a press conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall on November 12, 2019.
Jennifer Liseo/ADL

NEW YORK — In response to a spike in anti-Semitic incidents, Brooklyn will double the number of its schools running anti-bias training for students, borough President Eric Adams and the Anti-Defamation League announced Tuesday.

To do so, the ADL said it would double funding for its education initiative No Place for Hate — a “school climate improvement” program that gives schools an “organizing framework” for combating bias, bullying and hatred — with an investment of about $250,000.

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During the last school year, 22 schools and some 8,200 students in Brooklyn received the curriculum, which was launched in 1999 and has since been used in 1,600 public and private schools nationwide.

With the additional funding, the ADL said it would put an emphasis on public schools in Crown Heights and Williamsburg, where there are large Jewish communities.

“No one should fear for their safety or be victimized because of their religious beliefs. We must stand in support of any efforts or curriculums designed to promote tolerance and inclusion, in all of its facets,” Adams said.

“Our youth are our society’s most capable change agents, and they are never too young to learn that hate speech or any other forms of intolerant expression are wrong, and must always be denounced when it is encountered,” he added.

Brooklyn has been the epicenter of anti-Semitic incidents in New York City in recent years.

In 2018, the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force recorded a 23 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents citywide — 189 incidents, up from 154 the previous year.

While most of the 2018 incidents fall under the category of criminal mischief, the number of assaults jumped to 11 in 2018 (up from three in 2017). Aggravated harassment, which includes the drawing of swastikas, rose to 71 incidents (up from 41 the previous year). Most incidents took place in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said that when it comes to anti-Semitic incidents, offenders fall into three categories: people challenged by mental health issues; people who have “hate in their hearts”; and juveniles under 17.

“It’s astounding, it’s heartbreaking that our young people are full with all this rage and anti-Semitism,” he said, vowing to hold perpetrators accountable.

As the ADL made the announcement, the FBI released its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act report, revealing that while religion-based hate crimes decreased by 8 percent in 2018, almost 60 percent of the attacks targeted Jews and Jewish institutions.

The FBI data showed that hate crime murders totaled 24 — the highest number since the bureau began tracking and reporting on hate crimes in 1991. The increase was predominantly due to the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting in October 2018, which was the deadliest anti-Semitic hate crime in U.S. history.

In light of the report, the American Jewish Committee announced that it would invest in more education and launched Translate Hate, a digital illustrated glossary aimed at “enabling Americans of all backgrounds to expose anti-Semitic tropes and take action against hate speech,” accorind to the group’s website.

Visitors can find terms and expressions that are examples of anti-Semitism, with the site explaining the meanings and harmful usage, and adds a historical background. The platform also lets users report hate speech.

Brooklyn has seen more attacks against the Jewish community this week, with several incidents in which people have thrown eggs at local synagogues and schools. The incidents are being investigated.