BOSTON– According to new data released this month by the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts remained historically high in 2019, with 114 recorded incidents – 128 percent higher than the total for 2015. The data was part of ADL’s audit of anti-Semitic incidents.
Across America, the ADL recorded 2,107 acts of anti-Semitic hate, the highest number since tracking began in 1979. Incidents in public areas in Massachusetts increased by 14 percent, reflecting a national trend (655 nationally, an increase of 38 percent from the 476 incidents in 2018). In addition, the audit found that anti-Semitic incidents in Jewish institutions and schools also increased by 36 percent.
Included in the statewide count are multiple arson attempts targeting Chabad houses in Arlington and Needham, the vicious desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Fall River where 59 headstones were vandalized, and a proliferation of online anti-Semitism targeting Massachusetts middle and high schools.
Sixty-one cities and towns in Massachusetts recorded at least one anti-Semitic incident last year. Massachusetts recorded the fourth-highest number of incidents per state in the country (114), topped by New York (430), New Jersey (345), and California (330).
“The data tells the story that anti-Semitism continues to permeate American society,” said Robert Trestan, ADL New England regional director. “People are feeling increasingly emboldened to let their hate come out of the shadows and display their anti-Semitism in public. Particularly concerning is the specific targeting of Jewish institutions and schools and the 61 cases of harassment recorded statewide. The alarming manifestations of anti-Semitism in 2019 instill fear and are stark reminders that much work remains to be done. ADL is committed to focusing on confronting anti-Semitism through educational programs and resources, community outreach, and law enforcement engagement.”
In 2019, the ADL recorded 114 anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts. Despite the 21 percent decrease from 2018, incidents remain historically high in the state. In 2016, incidents spiked from 50 to 125. This alarming trend continued with 177 incidents in 2017 and 144 incidents in 2018.
The majority of 2019 incidents reported to the ADL in Massachusetts involved harassment (61), followed by acts of vandalism that convey anti-Semitic messages (52). Harassment incidents increased by 3 percent; this figure represents a larger national trend of increasing incidents of harassment (1,126 incidents nationally, a 6 percent increase from the 1,066 reported incidents in 2018).
ADL’s audit classifies incidents into three categories: assault, harassment, and vandalism. Of the total incidents reported in Massachusetts in 2019:
• Harassment: 61 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, cases where one or more Jews reported feeling harassed by language or actions, were recorded last year, a 3 percent increase from 59 in 2018.
• Vandalism: 52 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism, cases where property was damaged in a manner that harmed or intimidated Jews, were recorded in 2019, down 37 percent from 82 in 2018.
• Assaults: one incident of assault, cases where individuals were physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus, down from three in 2018.
• Anti-Semitic incidents took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions, and schools.
• Incidents at Jewish institutions and schools: 15 (up from 11 in 2018).
• Incidents in public areas (parks/streets/transit/buildings): 24 (up from 21 in 2018).
• Incidents in non-Jewish K-12 schools: 40 incidents in 30 cities and towns (down from 59 incidents in 58 cities in 2018).
• Incidents on college campuses: 13 (down from 20 in 2018)
• Incidents at private businesses and retail establishments: 7 (down from 11 in 2018).
• Incidents in homes: 8 (down from 15 in 2018).
Incidents in schools
Anti-Semitic incidents continued in K-12 schools. In Massachusetts, there were 40 reported incidents in schools across 30 cities and towns, a decrease from 59 incidents that occurred in K-12 schools in 2018. Reported incidents on college campuses decreased from 20 in 2018 to 13 in 2019.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has gathered the complete 2019 data, as well as data from the previous two years, on ADL’s H.E.A.T. map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart anti-Semitic incidents and events nationally and regionally.
The audit offers a snapshot of some of the ways in which American Jews encounter anti-Semitism, but a full understanding of anti-Semitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including but not limited to public opinion polling, assessments of online anti-Semitism, and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as “ADL Global 100, Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on Twitter;” “Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience, Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2019,” and the “ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews.”