NEW YORK (Jan. 10)
After more than doubling for three years in a row, anti-Semitic vandalism in the United States declined noticeably in 1982, according to the annual audit conducted by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
The survey disclosed 829 reported incidents this year in 35 states and the District of Columbia as compared to 974 in 31 states and the District in 1981 –a drop of 14.9 percent.
in making the findings public, Nathan Perlmutter, ADL’s national director, noted that the number of arrests in connection with the anti-Semitic episodes increased nearly 50 percent — from 114 in 1981 to 167 in 1982. of those arrested, he said, more than 80 percent were under the age of 20.
The attacks included the defacement of Jewish institutions, stores, homes and public property with swastikas, anti-Jewish slogans and graffiti. Of the 829 total, there were 14 cases of arson or attempted arson as against 16 in 1981, and three bombings as against four last year.
FACTORS IN THE DECLINE OF VANDALISM
The audit was prepared by the Research Department of ADL’s Civil Rights Division based on information provided by the ADL’s 27 regional offices in this country. It attributed the decline in vandalism, arson and bombings to a number of factors, including:
* Exposure of the facts about anti-Semitic vandalism and other anti-Jewish activity, leading to greater public awareness of the problem;
* The enactment of laws in several states against religiously motivated vandalism;
* Stricter law enforcement in problem areas;
* Security conferences — many sponsored by ADL in cooperation with law enforcement authorities, educators and religious leaders –which have led to increased police and civilian vigilance;
* Educational programs in the schools that have focused on the evils of bigotry and prejudice.
The audit also revealed that while there was an increase in the number of harassments against individual Jews or their institutions –593 as against 350 recorded for 1981 — the rate of increase was lower. In 1982, the rate of increase was 69 percent higher than the previous year. The 350 recorded in 1981, however, was 212.5 percent higher than the 1980 total of 112.
DOWNTURN SHOULD BE KEPT IN PERSPECTIVE
In assessing the results of the report, Perlmutter warned that “the downturn in anti-Semitic vandalism, welcome though it is should be kept in perspective. Hundreds of anti-Semitic episodes sadly suggest that any relaxation of vigilance or of prosecution of offenders would be premature.”
He went on to point out that while anti-Semitic vandalism was declining in the United States, there was a “disturbing increase” in anti-Jewish violence in Western Europe which resulted in the deaths of six persons and the wounding of 216 others in 1982.
According to an ADL survey made public in October there were 41 episodes of terrorism — including bombings and shootings — in six West European countries in 1982 compared to 15 such terrorist attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in 1981. The overseas audit was conducted by ADL’s European office headquartered in Paris.
MOST INCIDENTS OCCURRED IN FOUR STATES
Almost two thirds of the 829 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. occurred in four states. New York, With 272 — down from 326 the year before — still led the nation. Next was California with 134, down from 150 in 1981; New Jersey with 69, down from 94; and Massachusetts with 62, compared to 59 in 1981. The total of 537 in these states was 92 less than the previous year — a decline of 14.6 percent, mirroring the percentage decrease nationally.
The ADL audit also showed that:
* The Northeast, with 467 incidents or 56.3 percent of the reported anti-Semitic episodes, was once again the geographic area reporting the greatest number. The 1982 total, however, went down 16 percent as contrasted with the previous year.
* In the Middle West there were 73 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 1982, a decrease of 46 compared to the previous year. In percentage terms, this represented a 38.7 percent decrease;
* Although California was once again the Pacific Coast state reporting the greatest number of anti-Semitic episodes, its total was 10.6 percent below 1981. The other West Coast states — Washington and Oregon — again reported small numbers: Four this year, the same as in 1981.
The South, including Texas, however, was an exception to the audit. These southern states reported 91 incidents in 1982 compared to 81 in 1981, an increase of 12.4 percent.
NEED FOR STRONGER MEASURES
Perlmutter expressed the hope that other states would follow the lead of the 12 thus far — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington — which have enacted laws imposing stiffer penalties for persons convicted of religious or racial vandalism or other acts motivated by bigotry. Some of these statutes were based on a model law drawn up by the ADL.
“The 1982 audit, despite some encouraging signs,” Perimeter concluded, “still revealed hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents in this nation. Clearly what is called for are even stronger law enforcement measures community action and educational efforts to stamp out this blight on American society.”