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Too much hate: New York at epicenter of worst American anti-Semitism outbreak in over 40 years, ADL reports

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New York City is in the eye of the worst storm of anti-Semitism to hit the U.S. in more than 40 years, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported.

Hate crimes targeting Jewish people in the U.S. in 2022 hit the highest level since the ADL  began tracking them 1979, according to the Jewish advocacy group’s new report. Of the violent incidents tallied in the data, the vast majority took place in New York City.

Antisemitic incidents rose to 3,697 incidents throughout the country in 2022, a 36% rise from 2021. Members of the ADL and Jewish Relations Council of New York discussed the results of the ADL’s recent audit in a public meeting Wednesday.

A majority of the incidents were characterized as harassment, which includes online activity, but the tally included 111 assaults, a 26 percent increase from 2021. Of those, 72 took place in New York State, according to Scott Richman, the ADL’s New York and New Jersey regional director.

“Brooklyn is really the epicenter. Fifty two of 111 assaults across the nation took place just in Brooklyn, one borough of New York City of a state with 62 counties. So very, very troubling,” Richman said.

Chart courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

The ADL’s findings break down the incidents down into harassment, vandalism and violent attacks, spanning anything from yelling a slur in front of a synagogue to swastika graffiti and includes one fatal attack.

The report is indicative of a wide rise in antisemitism across the country both in extremist groups and mainstream culture and politics. Speakers attributed part of New York’s concentration of violent incidents to a sharp increase in attacks against its dense population of Orthodox Jews. There were 59 assaults on this group across the country in 2022 — an increase of 69% from the previous year.

Rabbi Bob Kaplan, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said that with the city’s striking growth of the ultra-Orthodox community, “there’s both a proximity and a lack of proximity.”

Speakers during the Anti-Defamation League conference on April 19, 2023.Screenshot

“The vast majority of young people in New York City, particularly in the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community, don’t get to interface with each other,” Kaplan said. The city and Jewish community as a whole needs to be very intentional and deliberate in creating those opportunities, he added.

“New York is both an exception as well as part of the larger trend,” noted Mitch Silber.

While the city’s demographic makeup is unique, the panelists agreed that part of the rise in incidents is attributable to a greater sense of “toxic polarity.” The sense of division has led to an increase in extremism and white supremacy.

A particular group that the ADL highlighted was the Goyim Defense League, a loose network of mostly online followers with a significant crossover with other white supremacist groups, which was responsible for over half of the anti-Semitic propaganda incidents in 2022.

The group seized on the appearance of antisemitism in mainstream culture over the past year, particularly that of Kanye West, when they used a laser projector to cast antisemitic messages outside a major college football game in Jacksonville, Florida, with one reading, “Kanye is right about the Jews.”

Though there’s no easy fix to this unsettling trend, ADL’s policy recommendations to push back the tide of antisemitic incidents include calling on public officials to condemn it, educational efforts to correct misinformations and teach Jewish history and block antisemitism online.

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