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Anti-Semitic Incidents Up 86 Percent Compared With Same Time Last Year

The Anti-Defamation League counts 541 incidents of anti-Semitism since the year began. That includes vandalism of Jewish burial grounds, including the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia in February.MoreCloseclosemore
The Anti-Defamation League counts 541 incidents of anti-Semitism since the year began. That includes vandalism of Jewish burial grounds, including the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia in February.

A Jewish advocacy organization expects a staggering increase in anti-Semitic incidents by the end of 2017. That projection comes after the Anti-Defamation League counted an 86 percent spike in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions so far this year, according to a report released Monday.

In its Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents, the civil rights organization found 541 acts of vandalism, violence and harassment against American Jews already reported in 2017. This recent increase follows last year's total of 1,266 acts, by the organization's count, a 34 percent spike over 2015.

Moreover, the league reports 369, or nearly a third of these incidents, occurred in the last two months of 2016.

It also linked 34 incidents directly to the 2016 election, including an instance of graffiti that read "Kill the Jews, Vote for Trump" and a Florida confrontation where a man said, "Trump is going to finish what Hitler started."

"There's been a significant, sustained increase in anti-Semitic activity since the start of 2016 and what's most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months," said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt in a statement accompanying the numbers.

Among areas to see an increase this year were bomb threats — particularly aimed at Jewish centers and schools — up by 127 percent this year so far. And vandalism — including at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis — was at 155 cases, or up by 36 percent when compared with the same period last year.

The report also highlights a downward trend in physical attacks on Jews but a tendency now toward online tools and harassment. Among those tactics were network printer hacks and software to hide the identity of online harassers.

"Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community [online] and offline," said the ADL's Oren Segal.

The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents since 1979, according to the report. Criminal as well as noncriminal acts such as distribution of hateful materials and slurs are included in its tally. The Associated Press adds that it uses broader criteria than those used by the FBI, which has yet to release its 2016 hate crime statistics.

The organization says its researchers evaluate reports from individuals, community leaders and law enforcement.

The findings in this year's audit regarding physical attacks are echoed by international anti-Semitism researchers working at Israel's Tel Aviv University. It should be noted that the Anti-Defamation League's Segal is a listed contributor.

That report also noted that globally violent attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions were down by 12 percent. But according to the report from the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, it was part of "contradicting trends" between a decrease in violence and:

"The continuation of the widespread increase, sometimes dramatic, in verbal and visual antisemitism on social media and during demonstrations, in insults, harassments and threats hurled at people, that cannot be quantified: the internet constitutes originally a virtual reality, but has become today's reality and the main platform for the distribution of bigotry and hate, in abusive unleashed language."

That report also stated U.S. campuses had become a "hotbed of anti-Semitism" with a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitism "of all forms," noting both harassment and insults:

"In addition to acts of vandalism, some groups, as well as anonymous individuals, have posted racist fliers on campuses across the county promoting white identity and heritage. The fliers try to appeal to white college students by focusing on alleged dangers facing white Americans, including demographic changes and 'white guilt.' Two white supremacist groups, Identity Evropa and American Vanguard, as well as individuals connected to a white supremacist blog called The Right Stuff (TRS), are behind many of the flier incidents."

Copyright NPR 2017.

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