NEW YORK, March 28 (JTA) – The outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence last fall sparked a surge in attacks on Jews in the United States, particularly in New York, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
Across the country, anti-Semitic acts against individuals and institutions were 4 percent higher in 2000 than in 1999, the report said.
In New York, however, the number of incidents soared by 50 percent, and college campuses saw a 15 percent rise, reversing a five-year decline in campus anti-Semitism.
The audit recorded 1,606 incidents – such as vandalism, intimidation and assault – in 44 states and the District of Columbia, versus 1,547 in 1999.
Of the incidents last year, 877 were verbal intimidation, threats or physical assault, while 729 were acts of property damage, arson or cemetery desecration.
There typically is an increase in anti-Semitic incidents around the High Holidays. In 2000, however, there were 259 incidents in October alone, just after violence broke out in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
America was not unique in that regard, as a number of countries with large Jewish populations, including Australia, Canada, France and England, experienced a rash of anti-Semitic incidents because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman noted in the report.
“When the crisis in the Middle East reached a fever pitch, Jews around the world and in the United States became targets for random acts of aggression and violence,” Foxman said.
“Many random acts of violence or harassment were acted out by sympathizers of the Palestinian cause. Fortunately, this phenomenon was apparently a unique, one-time occurrence.”
Most troubling was the jump in attacks in New York City, home to America’s largest Jewish community – and a place where Jews and Arabs live side by side.
Across the city’s five boroughs, incidents rose from 184 in 1999 to 275 in 2000. In Brooklyn, the number more than doubled, from 58 to 121.
Overall, New York state experienced a 32 percent increase and “continued to lead the nation in expressions of anti-Jewish hate,” according to the report.
“While the rest of the country saw little if any change in the statistics for anti-Semitic incidents, New York City’s levels rose dramatically over the last year,” Howie Katz, ADL’s New York regional director, said in the report. “This increase is clearly unacceptable for a city that prides itself on its racial and ethnic diversity.”
Yet the rise may not have been due solely to Mideast violence, Katz said.
“We believe that the cooperative efforts between law enforcement agencies throughout the state, working with the Jewish and other communities to aggressively investigate and prosecute hate crimes, have encouraged more people to come forward and report incidents,” he said.
“Likewise, the expansion of the New York City Police Department’s Bias Crimes Unit has led to more attention and scrutiny of hate crimes and other acts that, while not necessarily criminal, are expressions of anti-Semitism.”
Despite the slight increase nationwide, Foxman remains optimistic.
“In the 22 years that ADL has been conducting the audit, we have seen ups and downs,” he said in the report. “We still believe that through education and diligent work of law enforcement, these kinds of incidents can decrease in the future.”
The annual report can be found at www.adl.org.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.