Danvers residents rally after an antisemitic incident last fall.

ADL: Antisemitic incidents hit all-time high in New England region

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ADL: Antisemitic incidents hit all-time high in New England region

Danvers residents rally after an antisemitic incident last fall.

BOSTON – The Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, issued last week, recorded a total of 204 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in the New England Region (covering Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) in 2022, a 32 percent increase from 2021 and the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded in the New England region.

The increase in antisemitic incidents in the region overall was slightly below the 36 percent increase in such incidents nationally, while the increase in two states – Massachusetts and Maine – outpaced the national increase. Nationally, ADL recorded 3,697 antisemitic incidents in 2022, the highest total since ADL started tracking such data in 1979.

A total of 152 antisemitic incidents were recorded in Massachusetts last year, a 41 percent increase from 2021 incidents (108). Incidents of vandalism increased by 41 percent  (82 incidents in 2022, compared to 58 in 2021). Incidents of harassment increased by 38 percent (66 incidents in 2022, versus 48 in 2021). Massachusetts also recorded four assaults, double the number recorded in 2021.

Massachusetts tallied the sixth-highest number of incidents per state in the country (152), behind only New York (580), California (518), New Jersey (408), Florida (269) and Texas (211). These five states accounted for 54 percent of the total incidents.

The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a historical high in the New England region, with all states other than Vermont recording an increase year over year. ADL tracked 19 incidents in Rhode Island (up from 17 incidents in 2021), six in Vermont (down from 15 in 2021), 14 in New Hampshire (up from seven in 2021), and 13 in Maine (up from six in 2021).

The majority of 2022 antisemitic incidents reported to ADL New England were incidents of vandalism (104), followed by incidents of harassment (96). Vandalism and harassment incidents across the region increased by 39 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

“The continuing increase in antisemitic incidents in the region and across the country should dispel, once and for all, the myth that antisemitism is a problem of the past,” said Peggy Shukur, ADL New England Interim Regional Director. “Behind every one of these numbers are people who have experienced the harm, fear, intimidation and pain that reverberates from each of these incidents. A banner emblazoned ‘Jews did 9-11’ on our freeway overpasses may only be recorded as one incident but does not capture the harm done to every individual who saw it. The doubling of antisemitic incidents that occurred in homes is particularly chilling. Seeing swastikas in a front yard is deep and enduring both for the residents of that home and everyone who encounters it.

“The fact that numbers increased in nearly every category, including harassment and vandalism, is a grim reminder that antisemitism continues to infect our communities in real and pervasive ways. We and our strong and resilient New England community will continue to speak up and stand strong in the face of Jew hatred. Join us by signing our Pledge to Speak Up Against Antisemitism,” said Shukur. The pledge is online at massachusettsagainstantisemitism.org.

A total of 71 cities and towns in Massachusetts saw at least one antisemitic incident in 2022, up from 54 towns in 2021, according to ADL data. Included in the count are antisemitic assaults, incidents of white supremacist propaganda, incidents in K-12 schools and vandalism of Jewish institutions.

The Boston Mapping Project, an interactive map laced with antisemitic tropes, pinpointed the locations of Jewish communal and other community organizations in Massachusetts, along with the names of individuals associated with them. The Mapping Project included a chilling call to “dismantle” and “disrupt” most of Boston’s Jewish community and concluded with a thinly veiled threat that “every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.”

Antisemitic incidents in New England took place in a wide variety of locations including places of business, private homes, public areas, Jewish institutions and schools, and online:

• Incidents at Jewish institutions and schools: 23 (down from 29 in 2021)

• Incidents in non-Jewish K-12 schools: 53 (up from 35 incidents in 2021)

• Incidents on college campuses: 15 (no change from 2021)

• Incidents in public areas (parks/streets/transit/buildings): 68 (up from 55 in 2021)

• Incidents at private businesses and retail establishments: 19 (up from four in 2021)

• Incidents in homes: 20 (up from 10 in 2021)

The number of New England incidents taking place in private homes in 2022 doubled, shattering the sense of safety and security expected at one’s home. These incidents include multiple swastikas at a home in Stoneham, Mass., and the etching of an antisemitic slur on a car at a home in Stow, Mass. Swastikas and antisemitic slurs also marred the residence halls and other living spaces at Curry College in Milton, Mass. in 2022.

Throughout 2022, ADL responded to school-based incidents of antisemitism, including antisemitic slurs hurled at baseball games, graffiti in locker rooms and athletic facilities, and the airdropping of memes containing swastikas or other antisemitic content to school communities. To assist educators in addressing these incidents, ADL has developed a Guide for Responding to School Sports-Related Bias Incidents, which supplements its Guide for Responding to School-Based Bias Incidents.

National Findings

In 2022, ADL counted antisemitic incidents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories:

Assaults: 111 incidents were categorized as assault, defined as cases where Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were targeted with physical violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus. This was an increase of 26 percent compared to 2021. A total of 139 people were victims of assault, an increase of 6 percent. There was one fatality. Perpetrators in four of the antisemitic assaults made references to Israel or Zionism. Orthodox Jews, who typically are more easily identifiable than other members of the Jewish community, were disproportionately targeted – comprising 53 percent of assault incidents nationally.

Harassment: 2,298 incidents were categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. Acts of harassment increased 29 percent, up from 1,776 incidents in 2021.

Vandalism: 1,288 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged along with evidence of antisemitic intent, or had an antisemitic impact on Jews. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 51 percent from the 853 incidents reported in 2021. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in 792 of these incidents, up 37 percent from last year.

Combined, New York, California, New Jersey, Florida and Texas accounted for 54 percent of the total incidents in the U.S.

There were 589 incidents targeting Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, an increase of 12 percent from 525 in 2021. This includes the January hostage crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, which ended without casualties and the British hostage-taker, an Islamist extremist reportedly inspired by ISIS propaganda, dead. Bomb threats toward Jewish institutions were unusually high, with a total of 91 – the highest number of bomb threats recorded since 2017.

Antisemitic activity reported on college and university campuses increased by 41 percent in 2022, with 219 incidents reported at more than 130 campuses across the country. In non-Jewish K-12 schools, 494 incidents were reported, an increase of 49 percent.

“It’s deeply troubling that there was such a sharp increase in school- and college-based antisemitic acts,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “This is a reminder of the need for more targeted education efforts aimed at rooting out hate and teaching acceptance. Holocaust education is increasingly important, which is why we are advocating for the passage of state laws mandating Holocaust education so schools are equipped to teach that history and ensure its lessons endure.”

Anti-Zionism

Antisemitic incidents tied to opposition to Israel or Zionism remained at concerning levels, with 241 incidents accounting for 6.5 percent of the total in 2022. This is higher than the 178 incidents reported in 2020, but a decline from 345 reported in 2021, which was unusually high due to incidents linked to the Israel-Gaza war in May of that year, according to the ADL.

The highest number of incidents – 70 – was associated with hostile anti-Israel groups such as Witness for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, an increase of 19 percent from 2021. Sixty-nine of the incidents were cases of harassment. In one incident, an anti-Israel activist physically assaulted a Jewish person during a protest hosted by the group Within Our Lifetime (the attacker later pleaded guilty to hate crime charges).

Of the 241 anti-Zionist/anti-Israel-related incidents, 36 incidents took the form of white supremacist groups’ use of propaganda to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.

“Regardless of where it comes from, anti-Zionism is hateful, especially when it is used to intimidate students on campus,” Greenblatt said. “It is disturbing to continue to see both anti-Zionists on the far left and white supremacists on the far right using similar memes and tropes to spread antisemitism and hate, underscoring the fact that extremists from all sides rely on similar ideas to spread their hate.”

Mainstreaming of Antisemitism in Popular Culture

Some incidents were directly linked to events in the news. For example, hip-hop artist Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) was directly referenced in 59 incidents, an example of how his highly publicized antisemitic statements last year resonated with or motivated perpetrators. Extremist Black Hebrew Israelite groups were responsible for eight incidents, most notably surrounding the controversy involving basketball player Kyrie Irving. Θ

One Response

  1. I was saddened to read your article. I grew up in Chelsea, Ma. from 1938 until 1960 when I married and moved to NY. I never experienced fear or a sense of insecurity during that time: no bullying nor intimidation. My close friends were Polish, Russian, Jewish and Armenian and until the last six years would attend reunions. I still speak Yiddish (not so well as when I was young) but understand (only Litvak dialect, without fault). I cannot help but speculate what this present day environment means for the political and societal future of America.

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