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ADL audit: Anti-Semitic incidents at ‘troubling’ level

(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States remained at a "sustained and troubling" level, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit.

The 2009 audit of anti-Semitic incidents, released Tuesday, recorded 1,211 incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions across the U.S. last year.

The number fell from the 1,352 incidents reported in 2008, but some of the decline was likely because of revised methodology for reporting and tracking incidents that was unveiled in the ’09 audit, the ADL said.

In the latest audit, the incidents include 29 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 760 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment and threats, and 422 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism, according to the report.

Some incidents that occured in 2009 were not tallied under the new methodology, which takes a more conservative approach to counting certain types of incidents, including graffiti and swastikas.

“We know that the swastika has, for some, lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalized symbol of hate," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said. "So we are being more careful to include graffiti incidents that specifically target Jews or Jewish institutions as we continue the process of re-evaluating and redefining how we measure anti-Jewish incidents.”

Major incidents included the shooting attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., by an avowed Holocaust denier, which led to the death of a security guard; a thwarted plot by four Muslim converts to bomb synagogues in Riverdale, N.Y.; and the repeated picketing of institutions and community centers by members of the avowedly anti-Semitic, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.

The states with the highest  number of incidents were California, with 275 incidents; New York, 209 incidents; New Jersey, 132 incidents; and Florida, 90 incidents.

The audit noted that 2009 was marked by a severe intensification of anti-Semitic expression on the Internet, including a significant increase in the amount of anti-Semitism found on online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and user-generated content sites such as YouTube.
 

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