Civil rights

Number of anti-Semitic incidents increased in 2021, civil rights group says

The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in the United States in 2021 has reached an all-time high, according to a new report from the group.

The 2,717 incidents identified in news articles by the ADL or reported directly to the ADL in 2021 represent a 34% increase from the 2,024 incidents of antisemitism recorded by the group in 2020. Previously, the 2,107 incidents in 2019 were the highest total since the ADL. began publishing annual accounts in 1979.

Anything from an insult to a terrorist attack can be included in the count. For the second year in a row, 2021 recorded no anti-Semitism-related fatalities in the United States, but the ADL counted 88 anti-Semitic attacks, a 167% increase from the 33 attacks in 2020’s tally.

The group cited several reasons for the high numbers, including what the ADL called “improved reporting” due to partnerships with several Jewish organizations.

The partnerships — with several Jewish organizations, including the Community Security Initiative, Community Security Service, Hillel International, Secure Community Network, the Union of Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism — resulted in the identification of 494 incidents, or 18 % of total. .

The ADL also documented an upsurge in incidents related to the May 2021 series of deadly clashes between Israel and Hamas, many of which made national headlines at the time.

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Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at the group's 2018 National Leadership Summit

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at the group’s 2018 National Leadership Summit

(Photo: JTA)

“Jews were being attacked in the streets just because they were Jewish, and it seemed like the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were to blame for what was happening on the other side of the world” , said the CEO of ADL. Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

The 297 incidents that took place during the fighting in May represent an increase, but the ADL recorded further spikes later in the year with no similar trigger.

More than any other factor, Greenblatt said the overall increase in anti-Semitic incidents may be linked to political instability and polarization.

“When it comes to anti-Semitic activity in America, you can’t point to a single ideology or belief system, and in many cases we just don’t know the motivation,” Greenblatt said. “But we do know that Jews are experiencing more anti-Semitic incidents than we have had in this country for at least 40 years, and this is a deeply troubling indicator of wider societal fissures.”

Nearly 20% of incidents recorded by the ADL last year were attributable to right-wing actors, according to the report, which notes a sharp increase in the distribution of anti-Semitic pamphlets by groups such as the Goyim Defense League. A man set fire to a synagogue last October in Austin, Texas, shortly after the group held a rally there.

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Jérémie Cohen was attacked by a group of assailants for being Jewish and was hit by a tarmac, he later died of his injuries

The Anti-Defamation League has recently been criticized both for its overall strategy and for its specific efforts to account for anti-Semitic incidents. Right-wing critics have accused the group of abandoning its focus on Jewish security and, in doing so, being concerned only with right-wing anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, leftist critics have argued that the group too easily confuses criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, leading to exaggerated hatred against Jews.

In a field where a number of new entrants have taken a combative approach to identifying and combating anti-Semitism, the ADL said it remains committed to applying traditional research methods to its work. When it announced the Hillel partnership last year, for example, the group stressed that it would not automatically view criticism of Israel as evidence of anti-Semitism and would seek to independently verify the incidents. of anti-Semitism brought to his attention.

Last month, the group announced it had developed an algorithm to track anti-Semitism on social media — a project it took on because social media companies failed to do so, officials said. of the ADL.