An audit released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Nov. 1 reported that 1,080 anti-Semitic incidents took place across the United States in 2011; of those, 235 incidents took place in California. For the third consecutive year, California led the nation in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report.
“It’s not just mild stuff. It’s really quite shocking the level of vitriol out there,” said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the ADL Pacific Southwest division.
A national agency whose mission is to fight anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry, the ADL annually releases an “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,” tracking the number of anti-Jewish assaults, vandalisms and harassments during the previous year. There were 19 physical assaults on Jewish individuals; 731 cases of harassment, threats and events; and 330 cases of vandalism this year, the audit found.
Incidents in Los Angeles included a physical assault in May 2011, when a Jewish middle-school student in the San Fernando Valley, a constant target of bullying, was assaulted from behind and choked by one of the bullies. In October, a teacher in Los Angeles was called “Jew boy” by another teacher and was assaulted with a pipe.
The audit reveals two emerging trends, Susskind said. The first is that anti-Semitic bullying in schools is increasing.
“It feels to me like a casual use of anti-Semitic epithets has become more acceptable among kids,” Susskind said.
The second trend is the increasing prevalence of anti-Semitism online, including on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and in the comments sections on news Web sites, Susskind said.
One incident of vandalism in the report garnered much attention from local news outlets in April 2011, when three Calabasas High School students spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti on their school campus. The students were arrested and tried as minors. Two of the students were ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, and the disposition of the third student was not made public. After the incident, the ADL provided training to student leaders from Calabasas High in advance of the start of the 2011-12 school year.
The ADL attempts to be consistent each year in gathering data for the report, but the audit’s methodology is “not scientific” Susskind said. Using data gathered by the ADL’s 30 regional offices and law-enforcement agencies across the country, the audit counts both criminal and noncriminal acts. It does not include images of swastikas — a universal symbol for hate — that do not target Jews, nor does it include anti-Semitism that occurs on thousands of Web sites, comments sections and other forums because they are “virtually impossible to quantify,” according to the ADL Web site. In addition, the audit includes criticism of Israel or Zionism only if those criticisms cross the line from political expression to anti-Semitism.
The report does not account for anti-Semitic attitudes, which are on the rise, according to a 2011 ADL national telephone survey.
In 2011, two multistate violent plots by white supremacists appeared to target Jews, according to the report. White supremacists David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby were allegedly traveling to Sacramento to target Jews when police apprehended them in October. Convicted felon Danny Lee Warner Jr. was arrested in December after violating parole and allegedly sending a letter to his wife that said he intended to kill Jews.
Cyber-bullying and text messages are often used to target Jewish children, adolescents, teenagers and college students, including using words evoking Holocaust imagery, the audit suggests. At a college in Milledgeville, Ga., a Facebook message to a Jewish student read, “I hope you burn in hell.” In Milton, Mass., a Jewish student was jumped on and bitten in his dormitory by a neighbor who had previously made anti-Semitic comments.
Harassment against Jewish individuals — or individuals perceived to be Jewish — during speeches, picketing and other events is also recurring. In the San Fernando Valley, two individuals drove past Jewish pedestrians and shouted, “We’re going to kill all you f--- Jews.” In the Orange County city of Villa Park, a boy who refused to take a Bible from Evangelists who were handing them out at his school was knocked to the ground and kicked by another student while being called anti-Semitic slurs.
In August, anti-Semitic graffiti that read, “666” and “Go home,” was discovered on the temporary offices of the San Fernando Valley congregation Temple Judea.
Said Susskind: “It’s amazing to me; we should be pretty immune to this stuff by now, but ultimately I have the same reaction this year reading the actual report [that I have every year] … you just kind of have to say, ‘Whoa, that’s really shocking.’”