American Jews were targets of more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the past four decades, a surge marked by deadly attacks on a California synagogue, a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey and a rabbi’s New York home, the Anti-Defamation League reported Tuesday.
The Jewish civil rights group counted 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, finding 61 physical assault cases, 1,127 instances of harassment and 919 acts of vandalism. That’s the highest annual tally since the New York City-based group began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979. It also marked a 12% increase over the 1,879 incidents it counted in 2018.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s CEO, attributes last year’s record high to a “normalization of anti-Semitic tropes,” the “charged politics of the day” and social media. This year, he said, the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
“Anti-Semitism is a virus. It is like a disease, and it persists,” Greenblatt said. “It’s sometimes known as the oldest hatred. It never seems to go away. There truly is no single antidote or cure.”
The ADL’s count of anti-Semitic assaults involved 95 victims. More than half of the assaults occurred in New York City, including 25 in Brooklyn. Eight of those Brooklyn assaults happened during a span of eight days in December, primarily in neighborhoods where many Orthodox Jews live.
“Objects were thrown at victims, antisemitic slurs were shouted, and at least three victims were hit or punched in their heads or faces,” says the report first given exclusively to The Associated Press.
The ADL defines an anti-Semitic assault as “an attempt to inflict physical harm on one or more people who are Jewish or perceived to be Jewish, accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus.” Three of those 2019 assaults were deadly.