NEW YORK (Jun. 1)
For the first time since Israel was founded 40 years ago, a significant number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States now reflect “a politically-related anti-Israel component,” according to a report published Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
The report said that 88 of the 443 reported incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism, threats and harassment directed against synagogues, Jewish institutions, other property and individual Jews included bomb threats and graffiti such as “Death to Jews and Israel” and “Long Live the PLO.”
The vandalism is linked to the Palestinian unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The study by the ADL’s Civil Rights Division, titled “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents: The Anti-Israel Component,” describes the phenomenon as new in the United States, “though it’s been a common occurrence in European countries,” said ADL national director Abraham Foxman.
During all of 1987 in the United States, there were only three incidents of an anti-Israel nature out of a total of 1,018 reported in the ADL audit, Foxman said. In 1986, only eight out of 906 anti-Jewish episodes were politically oriented.
According to Foxman, the 88 incidents occurred in 18 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The state with the highest number was California, where 25 such incidents were reported. Illinois was second with 9, followed by Florida with 8, Minnesota with 7 and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania with 6 each.
Overall, the 443 anti-Semitic incidents reported during the first four-and-a-half months of 1988 showed an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period in 1987.
CONTINUES 1987 TREND
The increase for 1988 reflects the trend the ADL found last year, when statistics gathered by the league’s 31 regional offices, law enforcement officials and other sources showed a significant increase in total anti-Semitic incidents after a five-year downward trend.
“It is unclear whether they reflect an emerging new problem of anti-Semitism with political overtones, or if they simply are a departure in the behavior of those who would commit anti-Semitic acts — using a new vehicle to spread their messages of hate,” Foxman said.
Among the incidents reported in 1988 involving anti-Israel threats or statements were the following:
In Skokie and Springfield, Ill., La Jolla, Calif., and Mercer, Wash., bomb threats were received by synagogues.
In Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Philadelphia, phone threats and other forms of harassment took place.
In Fullerton, Calif., a synagogue was the target of arson.
In Palm Beach County, Fla., four synagogues were vandalized.
Particularly disturbing, the report said, were accounts of Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses, where Hillel centers as well as individual Jewish students and faculty members were targeted in six separate cases across the country.