NEW YORK (Dec. 29)
There was a sharp increase in reported anti-Semitic episodes, including assaults and vandalism against Jewish institutions, houses of worship, cemeteries and private property this year compared to 1979, according to a nationwide survey conducted annually by the Anti-Deformation League of B’nai B’rith.
The findings, which were made public today by Nathan Perlmutter, ADL’s national director, revealed 377 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 1980 as against 129 in 1979. These included firebombings, swastika daubing, anti-Jewish graffiti and other vandalisms in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
The largest number of incidents — 120 — was reported from New York State, with 69 of these in New York City’s five boroughs and 39 in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
New Jersey come next with 69 reported incidents, Massachusetts with 34, California 27, Michigan 21, Illinois and Rhode Island 12 each, Minnesota 10, North Carolina 9, Connecticut 8, Missouri 8, Virginia 8, Arizona 6, Oregon 5, Colorado 4, Wisconsin 4, Tennessee 3, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio and Washington, each 2. One incident was reported in each of the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.
In addition, Perlmutter pointed out, there were 112 anti-Semitic incidents involving bodily assaults against Jews, harassments or threats by phone or mail directed at Jewish institutions, their officials or private Jewish citizens that were not included in the total of ADL’s 1980 audit. He explained that this class of anti-Semitic activity was separately noted because it was not part of the 1979 audit and there was therefore no basis for comparison.
HIGH QUOTIENT OF ANTI-SEMITISM
Perlmutter said “the sheer statistics of anti-Jewish incidents suggest that there is a high quotient of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish hostility which still exists just beneath the surface of American life.”
The audit was based on reports from ADL’s regional offices across the country. The data received by ADL indicated that 20 persons were arrested or apprehended in II of the total of 377 incidents. Of these, 14 were aged 17 or under. Perlmutter said, however, that on such limited information, no firm conclusions ought to be reached that teenagers or juveniles were mainly responsible.
He noted that two of those arrested — in connection with a fire at a Jewish temple in Los Angeles earlier this month — were 24 and 35 years of age and were linked by police to the neo-Nazi National Socialist American Workers. Party. The Los Angeles episode was the only one in which charges were brought against members of an organized hate group.
According to Perlmutter, the increase in the number of tabulated incidents in 1980 may stem party from improved reporting procedures following last year’s audit, which revealed 129 anti-Semitic episodes as against 49 in 1978. As a result of making those findings public, the report said, there was heightened awareness by local Jewish communities around the country and a greater-tendency for victims to report anti-Semitic episodes to ADL.
WARY OF REPORTING INCIDENTS
Perlmutter said that there are still Jewish institutions and communities wary of reporting incidents because they fear publicity might encourage imitative behavior patterns that would result in further assaults. He added that even with the improved reporting procedures and greater awareness of the problem, the number of incidents for 1980 is undoubtedly higher than 1979 and, in any year, is higher than reported.
Among the findings of the ADL survey were the following:
‘Almost 65 percent of the 377 anti-Semitic incidents were reported from five northeastern states — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Forty-one percent of the total incidents were directed against Jewish institutions, such as houses of worship, schools, community centers and cemeteries.
Forty-two percent took place at private Jewish properties such as homes or stores, while the remainder occurred on public property or in the streets.
“The findings,” Perlmutter said; “underscore once again that anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious bigotry remain a virulent social disease. What is called for is greater public concern manifested through strengthened law enforcement, realistic penalties, and expanded educational programs.”