Anti-Semitic hate crimes in California dropped 13 percent in 2009, compared to the preceding year, according to a report released Thursday (7/22) by state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown.
There were 160 cases of hate crimes directed against Jewish individuals or institutions recorded in 2009, compared to 184 cases reported in 2008 to the California Department of Justice by law enforcement agencies in the state’s 58 counties.
However, in the category of religion-motivated hate crimes, anti-Jewish acts continued to dominate with 76 percent of the total, trailed distantly by anti-Muslim acts with 6.2 percent.
The decline in anti-Jewish acts were paralleled by similar or larger drops during the past 10 years in other hate crime categories, based on race of sexual orientation, interrupted by a brief upswing in 2007.
Among the total of 1,100 hate crimes reported in California last year, the majority (56.9 percent) were based on the victims’ race, ethnicity or national origin, with African-Americans as the most frequent targets, followed distantly by Hispanics.
The next largest number of hate crimes targeted gays and lesbians (22.3 percent), with religion-motivated hate crimes constituting 19.1 percent of the total.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and an expert on Internet hate propaganda, credited greater attention to hate crimes by law enforcement agencies for the statistical declines.
However, he warned that some 12,000 Internet web sites and blogs are regularly spewing anti-Jewish hatred, protected by the Constitution’s free speech amendment.
Even more worrisome, hate messages are going viral by means of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.com.
“Ten years ago, some kid might post an anti-Semitic flier in the high school locker room and nobody worried about it except the school’s principal,” Cooper said.
“Now the same messages can be passed on to a million people within minutes.”