April 5, 2001
Increase in Hate
Anti-Semitic incidents reported in the United States increased during 2000, according to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report released March 21, which cited reaction to the violence in the Middle East as the probable cause.
One week after the release of the ADL report, a commission attached to the California attorney general's office announced findings that law enforcement could be doing more to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
Though the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in California was down slightly, from 275 in 1999 to 257 in 2000, figures across the nation show a 4 percent increase over the previous year, according to the ADL's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The report recorded 1,606 attacks nationwide against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2000, compared to 1,547 incidents in 1999.
Among the most disturbing findings was a sharp jump in anti-Semitic attacks reported in New York City, where the numbers rose from 184 in 1999 to 275 in 2000, an increase of nearly 50 percent. The report also noted a 15 percent rise on college campuses, reversing a five-year period of decline in on-campus anti-Semitism.
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman noted that the increase in anti-Semitic incidents is part of a long history of ups and downs. He added, optimistically, "While 2000 saw a slight increase, we still believe that through education and the diligent work of law enforcement, these kinds of incidents can decrease in the future."
The ADL is not the only organization focusing on hate crimes last month. The Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes of the California attorney general's office released its final report March 29. The 46-member commission conducted 22 forums throughout the state. After hearing the stories and suggestions regarding hate crimes, the commission made recommendations to the attorney general's office on how California might better deal with hate crimes.
The commission, which delivered its final report at a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance, included active members of the Los Angeles Jewish community. Commissioner Sue Stengel is the Western States Counsel for the ADL; Howard Welinsky is a past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, commissioner and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, delivered the opening address at the press conference. Noting the extensive work of the commission in bridging gaps among the state's racial, ethnic and cultural communities, Rabbi Cooper expressed this hope: "While we can't legislate hate out of existence, we can stand together, and we can work together."
The commissioners were joined by Ishmael Ileto, brother of Joseph Ileto, the Filipino postal worker murdered by Buford O. Furrow Jr. after Furrow's North Valley JCC shooting rampage.
In a plainly emotional speech, Ileto underscored the importance of the commission's report in fighting hate crimes. Clutching a copy of the report, Ileto proclaimed, "We're not waiting for the next victim."