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US Had 1,211 Anti-Semitic Incidents in 2009

August 25, 2010
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ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in the press release, “It is a sobering reality that as Jews have become more accepted in society, there remains a consistent hatred of Jews among too many. The fact that Jews continue to be singled out for acts of hate on an average of three times per day in this country is a disturbing reality that we have to confront.”

ADL Associate Director of Civil Rights Steven Sheinberg told Bridges for Peace in an interview that one of the more troubling concerns from the latest ADL audit includes the “very serious” violent attacks targeting Jews and Jewish institutions during 2009. Among the incidents, was the shooting attack at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and the men arrested for allegedly planning to attack two New York synagogues. Sheinberg said they think the violence was indicative of a trend, “but it’s not indicative of wide-spread violence; it’s not indicative of some sort of organized conspiracy.”

While Internet anti-Semitism is not counted by the ADL audit, since it’s virtually impossible to fully quantify that, Sheinberg also noted that “2009 reflected a real turning point” for sharing anti-Semitism when it comes to social media, social networking, and user-generated content Web sites. He said the Internet revolution gave a platform for bigots to publish their hate and share with each other, but the social networking revolution now allows them to mingle and potentially “infect those who might not otherwise have been infected with the virus of hate.”  

“It’s sort of [gone] from the pre-Web world, where communication was an active thing where you had to go out and seek that information, to the social-networking world where communication can come right to you—right where your kids are, right where your grandkids are—online. It’s changed the way haters have communicated,” said Sheinberg.

The ADL has decided to change the way anti-Semitic incidents are collected and counted, which affects the 2009 audit. Sheinberg said the changes are meant in part to “follow the most important trends and make sure that we were counting accurately.” One adjustment is the handling of swastikas, a symbol that has become so affiliated with general hate, the ADL is now considering its context before labeling it as intentionally anti-Semitic. 

Sheinberg said that “looking year over year, one thing we can conclude without any question is that there’s always a steady drumbeat of hate and anti-Semitism in the United States. The audit, even with its methodological changes, shows that America is not immune to anti-Semitism.”

Despite the problems in the US regarding anti-Semitism, one positive noted by Sheinberg is that he is confident anti-Semitism still shocks and deeply offends the “overwhelming majority of Americans,” although the ADL worries that online anti-Semitism will eventually erode some of this. Other positives include legislative steps by the government and educational efforts put forth by the ADL and others to help combat hatred.

ADL National Chair Robert G. Sugarman said that while the survey is not a complete picture of anti-Semitism in America,  “it presents us with important statistical data to help us identify and to quantify the wheres, whys and hows of anti-Semitism in society.”

Posted on August 25, 2010

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, August 24, 2010)

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