Anti-Semitic Violence Soars to Highest Level in Decades

In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased nearly 60% a report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) showed earlier this year.

“In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, @ADL_National found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US rose 57% in 2017 – the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data”

In a press release issued in February the ADL said that the 2017 increase was the largest year-on-year increase since the Jewish civil rights group began collecting data in 1979.

There were nearly 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and physical assault against Jews recorded in 2017, the highest number of antisemitic incidents since 1994.

At the time the report was issued it was speculated that the rise in violence was attributed to the climate of rising incivility which has emboldened hate groups. There have been many documented cases of race-based violence where the perpetrators said they felt that Donald Trump’s language made it acceptable.

ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt said another factor was the increase of divisions within American society.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” Greenblatt said.

Rising numbers were in part due to the fact that more people were reporting incidents than ever before, the ADL said, adding that its staff independently verify the credibility of each claim.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been reported in all 50 U.S. states, with higher numbers reported in areas with large Jewish populations.

Donald Trump has been accused of failing to condemn religious bigotry which a president is supposed to do. Jewish groups criticized the president last year when he issued a statement about the Holocaust but did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

In the August 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacists waved insignia from Nazi Germany and yelled “Jews will not replace us.”

After that Trump infamously said, “You had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

Trump was rightfully slammed for implying there is a moral equivalency between members of the far right who march to promote hate, and the counter demonstrators who marched to promote tolerance and human rights.

The ADL’s report said schools and colleges in the United States have been hit very hard with anti-Semitic incidents. The number of such incidents has almost doubled since 2016. There has been a large increase in swastikas being drawn on school facilities or Jewish students’ notebooks and other property. There have been many reported cases of offensive graffiti and vandalism, including the writing of phrases such as “Hitler was not wrong” and “white power”.

There were 204 such incidents on university campuses in 2017, more than double from the year before.

A separate ADL study found a more than 250% increase in the distributing of neo-Nazi fliers, on college campuses.

Also there has been a significant increase in the number of Jewish graves and cemeteries that have been damaged and desecrated.

According to the ADL, since Donald Trump became president there is an increasing feeling  that the American Jewish community is “under siege”.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported by the ADL during 2018 will not be available for several months. It is clear, however, after the murder of 11 Jews yesterday in their house of worship, that the Jewish community is indeed “under siege.”

When certain ethnic and religious groups are targeted for violence by white supremacists, and the President of the United States is seen as encouraging such behavior, it is not just these minority groups that are under siege.

In the current environment, where hate seems to be tolerated, the entire American value system is under siege. This, as much as any other single thing, will be the legacy of the Trump presidency.