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Highest number of antisemitic incidents since 1979 recorded last year, Anti-Defamation League finds

U.S. antisemitic incidents hit record high
Antisemitic incidents in U.S. hit record high in 2022, Anti-Defamation League finds 04:20

Antisemitic incidents rose 36% nationwide in 2022, with 3,697 instances of assault, harassment or vandalism tallied by the Anti-Defamation League, marking the highest number on record since the group began its annual audit in 1979. 

The most recent report, released Thursday, found that antisemitic incidents spanned all 50 states and Washington, D.C., increasing from 2021 in each of the major categories the ADL tracks. Antisemitic harassment increased by 29% to 2,298 incidents, antisemitic vandalism increased by 51% to 1,288 incidents, and antisemitic assaults increased by 26% to 111 incidents. 

Notably, visibly Orthodox Jews were targeted in more than half of all assault incidents nationwide. 

The vast majority of antisemitic assaults — 107 out of 111 — were done without the use of a deadly weapon in 2022.

In one notable exception, a gunman held three congregants and Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022. One hostage was released and the other three managed to escape after the rabbi threw a chair at the hostage taker following an hourslong standoff with law enforcement. The hostages were physically unharmed, but said in January they're still healing. 

"We're healing, we're not healed," Jeffrey Cohen told CBS Texas one year after the ordeal. "We're getting there. I am permanently changed. I'm much more aware of my surroundings everywhere that I go. I'm much more on edge." 

Texas Synagogue Holds Healing Service After Recent Hostage Situation At Synagogue
Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is shown on January 17, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. Emil Lippe / Getty Images

Last year, the ADL recorded one fatality resulting from antisemitic activity — the death of University of Arizona professor Thomas Meixner, who was shot and killed on campus by a former student who had previously expressed conspiratorial antisemitic views online, according to the ADL. 

No assaults against the Jewish community in the U.S. resulted in mass casualties last year.  

"Every antisemitic incident is perpetrated by an individual… we don't always know what's in their minds," said Aryeh Tuchman, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism. Tuchman said that the center's researchers refrain from speculating on motivations, but work to identify patterns within the collected statistics. 

New York, California and New Jersey led the states for total incidents, followed by Florida and Texas. 

A rise in white supremacist-driven antisemitic incidents 

"The largest and most noteworthy bucket of incidents, which we feel contributed greatly to the increase, is organized white supremacist activity," said Tuchman.

Known white supremacist networks coordinated to produce more than double the antisemitic propaganda this year, according to the ADL, with 852 incidents reported in 2022. 

More than half of all propaganda incidents tallied by the ADL came from one group. That group's "accelerated tempo of antisemitic propaganda campaigns" accounted for 492 propaganda incidents in 2022. In one incident, following antisemitic remarks from the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, members of the group displayed banners over a highway overpass in Los Angeles, reading, "Kanye is right about the jews [sic]" and "Honk if you know."

The ADL report noted that the "impact of Ye's comments was felt on the ground across the country," 

"Fifty-nine antisemitic incidents from October 11 through the end of 2022 directly referenced Ye, including 44 cases of harassment, 13 cases of vandalism and two cases of assault," the report stated.

"Tip of the iceberg": Bomb threats, harassment plague schools

In 2022, 91 bomb threats were called or emailed into Jewish institutions or schools, and they often included "hateful, antisemitic language," according to the ADL. The threats were made in 25 states and Washington, D.C. 

"We usually have around a dozen such bomb threats [reported], so this is a significant trend that we need to look at now," said Tuchman, noting law enforcement is still investigating many of the threats issued. 

Jewish institutions — including Jewish schools — were targeted by 589 antisemitic incidents in 2022, while 494 antisemitic incidents were also tabulated at non-Jewish schools. 

"We are sure that the numbers that are reported in K-12 schools are the tip of the iceberg," said Tuchman, adding that many children fear retaliation for reporting antisemitic bullying. 

"Every Jewish child has the right to get an education that is free from bullying and from antisemitic vandalism, harassment and assault," Tuchman said. "And we're concerned about the long term impact of antisemitic bullying on children's emotional health and how they perceive their own Jewishness." 

In 2022, 130 university and college campuses across the country saw a total of 219 antisemitic incidents — an increase of 41%. Of the 90 incidents of vandalism recorded on campuses, roughly one-third included swastikas.

"A call to action, not a source for fear"

Researchers and policy advisors at the ADL continue to call on leaders to condemn antisemitic incidents outright. 

"Public officials and civic leaders — from the President, to governors, attorneys general, mayors, other civic leaders, and law enforcement authorities — must use their bully pulpits to speak out against antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism," the report said. 

In November 2022, the Department of Homeland Security released a public bulletin warning of "the enduring threat to faith-based communities, including the Jewish community."

The ADL urged lawmakers to adopt wide-ranging measures to combat all forms of domestic antisemitic extremism, including improvements to hate crime data collection and full funding of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which provides additional funding to states to help combat hate crimes.

Less than two-thirds of law enforcement agencies reported data on hate crimes to the FBI, last year, marking a significant drop-off. There are more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., but reporting hate crimes data by state, local and tribal agencies remains voluntary.

The ADL also called upon technology platforms to ensure strong policies against hate, including a recommendation to make content policy and reporting features more accessible for users. The ADL found last year that online harassment "has held steady since 2020" with 40% of respondents in a survey released last year reporting some type of harassment compared to 41% in 2021 and 44% in 2020.

For his part, Tuchman hopes that the ADL's report will serve as a call to action for the Jewish community, without sparking fear. 

"I hope that the Jewish people in this country take these incidents seriously, firm up the security at their institutions, but also to remain proud and confident," he told CBS News. "So they can live in American society without fear, knowing that ADL is out there looking out for them, but also so many of their neighbors and other people in their communities are also looking out for them… Our communities are strong and our people are secure. And these findings should be a call to action, but not the source of fear and alarm."

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