NEW YORK (Jan. 17)
Anti-Semitic vandalism and other attacks against Jewish institutions, businesses and homes declined substantially in 1983 for the second year in a row, according to the annual audit conducted by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
ADL’s national director Nathan Perlmutter said the survey revealed 670 incidents across the nation, a decline of 19 percent from the 829 incidents recorded in 1982.
The nationwide total for 1982 was almost 15 percent lower than the 974 recorded in 1981. The two-year decline reversed a sharply upward trend reported since 1979.
The 1983 audit once again showed that three states, New York, California and New Jersey, accounted for a majority of the incidents — New York, 215; California, III, New Jersey 57.
LARGE DECREASE IN ASSAULTS
The audit, which was based on data supplied by the ADL’s 30 regional offices across the nation, also reported a large decrease in the number of assaults against individual Jews and threats and harassments in which Jews or Jewish-owned properties were victims or targets.
The decline amounted to almost 41 percent — down from 593 in 1982 to 350 in 1983. The incidents involving assaults and harassments were tabulated separately from the category of vandalism.
The ADL reported that 115 persons were arrested in connection with 55 anti-Semitic incidents in both categories. Almost 90 percent of those arrested were teenagers, a statistic that followed the pattern found by previous ADL audits.
LIKELY CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DECLINE
Describing the 1983 declines in anti-Semitic incidents as “welcome,” Perlmutter said counteractive measures and heightened public concern over the problem likely contributed to the decline. He listed the following developments:
*Stricter law enforcement and punishment nationwide against those responsible for perpetrating anti-Semitic incidents;
*Passage of laws, many based on an ADL model statute, against religious or ethnic vandalism in sixteen states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illionis, Indiana, Maryland, Massachussets, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington;
*Stepped up newspaper and TV attention to “bias crimes,” and intensified educational program to eradicate bigotry and promote appreciation for ethnic diversity.
The audit cited two other possible explanations for the decline in anti-Semitic incidents:
*The overall decrease in the number of crimes committed in this country in 1982 and the first half of 1983, as reported by the FBI;
*Imitative behavior, which influenced increases in anti-Semitic vandalism in the past, may have been dampened during the last two years in the face of stricter law enforcement and greater public concern.
In assessing the findings of the audit, Perlmutter asserted that they provide only a single barometer for measuring anti-Jewish hostility in this country.
Anti-Semitic incidents, he said, constitute only one of several manifestations of bigotry in the U.S. of concern to the American Jewish community. Others include:
*Anti-Semitic activities of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and various armed paramilitary groups, including Posse Comitatus;
*The increasingly open anti-Semitism promoted by the Soviet Union as “anti-Zionism” and the activities of radical leftist organizations such as the Communist Party and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party Whose propaganda against Israel and Zionism attacks the most heartfelt concerns of the overwhelming majority of Jews both in the United States and around the world;
*The outpouring of anti-Semitism at the United Nations disguised as anti-Zionism;
*Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda purveyed by pro-Arab and pro-PLO groups;
*The spreading of Holocaust revisionist propaganda by organizations and individuals that deny the reality of the Nazi annihilation of six million Jews;
*The private prejudices and bigotries, which cannot be counted, that take place in executive suites where discrimination against Jews is practiced, or in social clubs that bar Jews from membership.
SEVERAL WIDELY PUBLICIZED INCIDENTS
The audit noted that several incidents in 1983 attracted considerable publicity and were perceived by many as motivated by anti-Semitism, These included shootings directed at New York’s Yeshiva University and its students, a purported arson at a Jewish center in Bloomington, Ind., and arson and vandalism directed at synagogues and homes of individual Jews in West Hartford, Conn.
In the Yeshiva incidents, police have not yet been able to establish that anti-Semitism was the motive of the attacks. In Bloomington, authorities suspect that anti-Semtism was the motivation. In the Connecticut incidents, a Jewish teenager admitted he was responsible.
“Regardless of the decline in anti-Semitic incidents in the past two years,” Perlmutter concluded, “the stark fact remains that in 1983 there were 670 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism. The vandalizing of even one religious institution or one home because of the religion or race of the occupant is one too many.” He called for continuing educational, legislative and law enforcement efforts.