New York continues to be the anti-Semitism capital of the United States, with a 23 percent jump in incidents of harassment and vandalism in 2007, even as the national total dropped 13 percent, the Anti-Defamation League reported in its annual audit this week.
New York, which had 351 anti-Semitic incidents, and Pennsylvania, which had 99, were the only states with large Jewish populations to see an increase in 2007, while New Jersey, California and Florida saw a decrease. With the nation’s largest Jewish population, New York has consistently led the nation in anti-Semitic incident reports compiled by the ADL.
But unlike 2006, when violent incidents reached double the 2005 figure, physical attacks on New York Jews dropped to 14, from 23. Twelve of the attacks happened in New York City, and two on Long Island.
The most dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts was seen on campuses and schools, a 172 percent rise from 25 to 68 incidents.
Long Island saw the largest regional spike with 118 incidents, up 59 percent, while New York City’s 193 anti-Semitic incidents represented a 9 percent increase.
The Bronx was the only borough to see a decrease in incidents, from 13 to 10, while Manhattan saw the steepest rise, from 56 to 65. Queens incidents rose from 28 to 35, while Brooklyn incidents rose slightly from 67 to 70. Staten Island’s total, 13, was the same as that of 2006.
Statewide, incidents of harassment, which include threats and intimidation as well as assaults, dropped from 119 to 111.
The annual survey includes criminal and non-criminal anti-Semitic activity, from nasty e-mails or fliers to physical assaults. An ADL spokesman said 60 percent of the incidents were investigated by police.
A large share involved swastikas.
“There is a copycat element that emerges, but what sparks it to begin with, it’s hard to say,” said Joel Levy, New York regional director of the ADL. “There are a lot of people out there with this kind of blind hatred and they express it, not because of anything Jews did, but because they just want to express their hatred, and the swastika is the way they do it.”
The dramatic rise of campus and school incidents, Levy said, may be a symptom of the growing phenomenon of “cyber-hate.”
“One factor is that students use the Internet as much as they do,” he said. “And it’s clear that those who are haters of blacks and Jews are using the Internet to spread that hatred … The Internet is a wonderful thing but it’s also a highway of hate.”
Several of the 2007 incidents were well publicized in the media, including: The painting of a swastika on the office door of a Jewish professor at Columbia Teachers College in October; the December assault of a group of passengers on the Q subway train in Brooklyn that reportedly stemmed from a “Happy Chanukah” greeting, and a spree of 23 swastikas on buildings in Brooklyn Heights.
Other incidents include an attack on two women near a shopping center in the Five Towns area by a man and woman who identified themselves as Nazis.
Suspects were arrested and charged with hate crimes in the Long Island and Q train incidents.
The national audit of data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., as well as from ADL’s regional offices, found a decline for the third consecutive year, with 1,357 incidents, down from 1,554 in 2006.
Acts of vandalism nationally dropped 8 percent to 612, while harassment incidents dropped 16 percent to 745.
Hate groups were quieter last year, committing 44 percent fewer acts than in 2006. Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said in a statement that the decrease was tied to less leafleting by those groups, possibly because of the “alternative outlet” of the Web.
“We do know that anti-Semitic groups are relying more on the Internet to spread propaganda and share ideas, and this may be having an impact as an alternative outlet,” said Foxman.
Reports of notable 2007 incidents around the country include the following:
# A couple moving into a new home in Palm Beach, Fla., in January were told by a neighbor, “You people are Jew bastards.” The neighbor then allegedly sprayed insecticide in the face of one of the victims.
# At a Jewish cemetery in Chicago, at least 70 headstones were overturned and a swastika was etched on a mausoleum wall in May.
# A student in Gulfport, Fla., scrawled swastikas and “Jews will die soon” on a paper handed to his teacher in October.
# An Orthodox teenager was badly beaten in Lakewood, N.J., by several men who yelled “F—ing Jew” as they attacked him in November.
“We are certainly encouraged that the total number of incidents has declined for three years in a row,” said Foxman in his statement. But he said the incidents “often involve expressions of anti-Jewish animus that are ugly and deeply hurtful to their victims and the communities where they occur.”