Apr 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

ADL: Antisemitic incidents in U.S. reached all-time high in 2021

Photo of a crowd of people with one holding a cardboard sign with blue lettering that says "No hate, no fear" and shows the Star of David

Thousands of New Yorkers join community leaders and city and statewide elected officials at a solidarity march against the rise of antisemitism in Manhattan on Jan. 5, 2020. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) annual audit released Tuesday.

Driving the news: Antisemitic incidents jumped 34% from 2020 to the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking them in 1979.

By the numbers: ADL documented 2,717 antisemitic incidents throughout the U.S. in 2021. New York, New Jersey and California saw the highest number of incidents.

  • The 88 incidents of assault — a 167% jump from 33 in 2020 — involved 131 victims. Cases of harassment increased by 43% from 2020, while vandalism incidents rose by 14%.
  • Attacks against Jewish institutions, including synagogues, increased 61%. Incidents at K-12 schools jumped 106% and incidents on college campuses rose 21%.
  • ADL also tracked 484 antisemitic incidents that were "attributed to known right-wing extremist groups or individuals inspired by right-wing extremist ideology."
  • A surge in antisemitic incidents in May 2021 "coincided with the military conflict between Israel and Hamas," per the audit.

What they're saying: "While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking," said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director, in a statement.

  • "Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away."
  • "When it comes to antisemitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system," said Greenblatt added. "But we do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that’s a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures."

The big picture: The escalation in violence between the Israeli military and Hamas in Gaza last May had a ripple effect around the world and led to reports of several antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.

  • A report by the American Jewish Committee out last November found that about 25% of Jewish people in America have experienced some form of antisemitism. Nearly 40% have changed their behavior out of fear of being targeted.
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