Jan 10, 2024 - Culture

Philadelphia sets new record for anti-Jewish hate crimes

Illustration of a fragmented star of David made of scraps of paper.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

For the first time in nearly two decades, Philadelphia set a new record for anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2023, undercutting a downward trend of overall hate crimes in the city, according to data obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The rise in antisemitic hate crimes in Philadelphia and many other U.S. cities coincided with the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

The big picture: Overall hate crimes in Philadelphia dropped 7% last year, per the latest report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

  • The city reported 136 hate crimes in 2023, the fourth-largest total since 1993, according to data compiled by California State criminologist emeritus Brian Levin.

Yes, but: Anti-Jewish cases in the city surged more than 237% last year.

By the numbers: Philadelphia's 27 antisemitic hate crimes last year surpassed the previous record of 25 set in 1997, per Levin.

  • Sixteen anti-religious cases occurred between October and Nov. 19 — following the outbreak of the war.

Between the lines: Jewish Americans have supplanted Black Americans as the most targeted minority group in Philadelphia, a trend seen in many of the U.S.'s 10 largest cities likely for the first time, the center said.

  • The city reported 34 anti-white cases, the biggest slice of Philadelphia's total hate crimes in 2023, per the data.

What they're saying: Levin pointed to recent examples of politicians and celebrities mainstreaming antisemitism, which he says account for some of the surges.

  • "We're talking about victimization levels that I haven't seen in my career," Levin tells Axios.

Zoom in: Last month, pro-Palestinian protestors targeted the Jewish-owned "Goldie" falafel shop in Philly with chants of "genocide," which Gov. Josh Shapiro condemned as "a blatant act of antisemitism."

  • Outcry over the University of Pennsylvania's handling of antisemitism on campus led to the resignation of then-president Liz Magill.

Zoom out: Most of the nation's 10 biggest cities experienced surges in overall hate crimes for the third straight year, Axios' Russell Contreras reported.

Be smart: The report reflects a 23-year trend of increasing hate crimes nationwide, driven in part by better data collection from police and state agencies.

What we're watching: Anti-Jewish hate crime is likely to reach a national record when the FBI releases data later this year.

  • Anti-Muslim hate crime, which also saw significant spikes this fall in larger cities, will likely also hit its highest level since the middle of last decade.
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