Surge in 2017 of anti-Semitism reported in new study

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11 over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. (CNS photo/Alejandro Alvarez, News2Share via Reuters)

(RNS) — A new report shows a continued rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. in the first nine months of 2017, partly attributable to the Charlottesville, Va., rally in which white nationalists marched through the city shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

The report from the Anti-Defamation League shows a 67 percent increase in physical assaults, vandalism and attacks on Jewish institutions over the same period last year.

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Specifically, the report cites 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, up from 779 in the same period in 2016. The ADL has counted anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and reported the numbers since 1979.

“While the tragedy in Charlottesville highlighted this trend, it was not an aberration,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said in a written statement. “Every single day, white supremacists target members of the Jewish community — holding rallies in public, recruiting on college campuses, attacking journalists on social media, and even targeting young children.”

"Every single day, white supremacists target members of the Jewish community."

The report shows that anti-Semitic incidents spiked during and immediately after the Charlottesville protests that left one woman dead. President Trump ignited a political firestorm in the wake of the violence when he attributed “blame on both sides” — white supremacists, as well as those who marched against them.

Of the 306 incidents reported in the third quarter of 2017, 221 took place on or after the Aug. 11-12 rally. Still, the total number of anti-Semitic incidents peaked in the first quarter of the year, which saw 667 instances of anti-Semitism.

Among the most notable incidents, the first nine months of 2017 saw 162 bomb threats against Jewish institutions, 584 incidents of vandalism and 12 physical assaults.

In March, after an international probe spearheaded by the FBI, Michael Kaydar, an 18-year-old Israeli-American, was arrested in Israel in connection with a wave of bomb threats at Jewish community centers.

Bomb threats, vandalism, harassment and assaults took place across the country, but the states with the highest number of incidents tended to be those with the largest Jewish populations: New York, California, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania.

New York state had the highest number of incidents — 267. It also had the highest number of reported assaults — eight.

Perhaps most troubling, the report found a growing spurt of anti-Semitic harassment and vandalism on college campuses and in grade schools. Incidents in K-12 schools in 2017 more than doubled over the same period in 2016 (269, up from 130).

On college campuses, 118 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the first three quarters of 2017, compared with 74 in the same period of 2016 – a 59 percent increase.

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