NEW YORK, Nov. 24 (JTA) – Jews and Jewish property are the prime targets of hate crimes motivated by religious prejudice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded. The FBI’s annual report on hate crimes, released this week, tallied 1,087 crimes directed against Jews and Jewish institutions in 1997, almost 80 percent of all such acts perpetrated on the basis of religion. Responding to the findings, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying, “This high level of violence and vandalism directed against Jews is another reminder that violent anti-Semitism remains a significant problem in America.” All told, 8,049 hate crimes were reported by the FBI for last year, representing a decrease of about 700 from the previous year. The statistics were collected by 11,211 law enforcement agencies across the United States, 144 fewer than the year before, marking the first time since the Hate Crimes Statistics Act was enacted in 1990 that the number of participating agencies declined from one year to the next. Calling the report “a disturbing measure of hate in America,” ADL urged expanded bipartisan efforts at state and federal levels to combat “bias- motivated violence.” It is not clear whether the slight decrease in the number of reported hate crimes is attributable to better anti-hate programming and enforcement or to what the ADL called the “unwelcome” decline in the number of participating agencies. The FBI report came as ADL released the findings of a survey showing that Americans’ attitudes toward Jews are improving overall, but that African Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to hold anti-Jewish beliefs. The survey found that the number of American adults with strongly anti-Jewish views has dropped from 20 percent to 12 percent since 1992, when ADL last conducted a study of such attitudes.
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