Crime & Justice

Anti-Semitic violence in California increased by 21 percent last year, report finds

A Hasidic man walks through a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn on April 24, 2017 in New York City. According to a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose by 86 percent in the first three months of the year. The group's audit of anti-Semitic events counted 541 anti-Semitic attacks and threats in the first quarter of the year, a significant increase over the same period last year.
A Hasidic man walks through a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn on April 24, 2017 in New York City. According to a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose by 86 percent in the first three months of the year. The group's audit of anti-Semitic events counted 541 anti-Semitic attacks and threats in the first quarter of the year, a significant increase over the same period last year.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An annual report on anti-Semitism counted 211 violent incidents against Jews in California last year — a 21 percent increase from 2015. On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League published its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, reporting national and state-by-state numbers on everything from anonymous threats to direct physical assaults against American Jews.

According to the organization, there was an even greater spike nationwide, with a total of 1,266 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, threats, vandalism and physical assaults in 2016 — a 34 percent jump from 2015. Much of the increase happened last November and December.

Factors contributing to the jump likely include last November's general election, Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Amanda Susskind told KPCC. 

"Whether it's because of the mainstream normalization of hate that we've seen from on-high, or it's just ... the more decades that pass since the Holocaust, the more people seem comfortable making fun of it or wearing a Hitler costume to school, or making jokes about it," Susskind said. "It is striking that this kind of hate speech is becoming so commonplace among our children."

Last March, Congregation Adat Shalom in Los Angeles had the word “Nazi” written in graffiti on its synagogue. Last October in San Diego, a student went on an Instagram cyber-bullying spree, commenting “put them in the oven” and “Hitler should have used more gas” on the photos of several Jewish students.

In October 2016, an electronic road construction sign near Agoura Hills was hacked and altered to read
In October 2016, an electronic road construction sign near Agoura Hills was hacked and altered to read "Gas the Jews."
Anti-Defamation League

The Anti-Defamation League's audit is comprised of anecdotes from law enforcement agencies, community leaders and victims of anti-Semitism, Susskind said, adding that the audit is not a poll and not a scientific analysis of hate crimes. Rather, it's a way for the Anti-Defamation League to keep a pulse on the presence of anti-Semitism in mainstream culture, K-12 schools and communities across the country, she said. 

"That way, we can glean certain trends and find hotspots to be aware of," she said.

In 2016, the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 34 percent. Of the recorded 1,266 incidents, 211 took place in California, according a report published by the ADL on Monday.
In 2016, the total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 34 percent. Of the recorded 1,266 incidents, 211 took place in California, according a report published by the ADL on Monday.
Anti-Defamation League

Because of its large population compared to other states, California's number of incidents will likely always put it at the top of the Anti-Defamation League's audit, Susskind said. The spike in the number of incidents in California echoed spikes in other states with high populations of Jewish people such as New York, Florida and Massachusetts, according to the report. 

According to the report, in 2016, the 1,266 anti-Semitic incidents included:

720 harassment and threat incidents, an increase of 41 percent over 2015

510 vandalism incidents, an increase of 35 percent

36 physical assault incidents, a decrease of 35 percent.

In its report, the Anti-Defamation League also cites 34 incidents linked directly to the election. 

“We’re not saying that anybody’s calling for this kind of thing to happen,” Susskind said. “More, we're saying that there has been a certain normalization of hate rhetoric [during the presidential campaign], as well as a failure to stand up and denounce it when it does happen.”

Public officials in L.A. have stepped up in recent months to address the state's growing number of hate crimes. Last November, local leaders held a press conference to condemn "un-American" crimes motivated by someone's race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

The Anti-Defamation League has published its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents since 1979, according to its website.

Along with numbers from 2016, the organization released preliminary numbers of anti-Semitic incidents from the first quarter of 2017. So far this year, 541 anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded around the country — an 86 percent increase over the same period last year.