California second worst in nation as anti-Semitic incidents rise in U.S.

Anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses nearly doubled in 2015, the Anti-Defamation League reported this week, and the number of anti-Semitic assaults overall increased by more than 60 percent.

Campus anti-Semitic incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total in the  organization’s audit released June 22.

California recorded the second-highest number of incidents overall, after New York, with a slight decline from 184 reported incidents in 2014 to 175 in 2015. The ADL’s regional office in San Francisco said there were 44 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Northern California in 2015.

“In Northern California we saw a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses through episodes that drew national attention, such as the swastika vandalism at the AEPi fraternity house at U.C. Davis, and the inappropriate questioning of a Jewish candidate for student government at Stanford,” said Seth Brysk, director of the ADL’s Central Pacific regional office.  “This reinforces the trend of a sharp rise in campus incidents overall.”

In January, swastikas were spray-painted on the exterior wall of a Jewish fraternity at U.C. Davis, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from the Nazis. In March at Stanford, student senate candidate Molly Horwitz was asked by a different student group how her Jewish faith would influence her decision-making.

The ADL audit recorded a total of 941 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2015, an increase of 3 percent from the previous year. Fifty-six of the incidents were assaults, the most violent category recorded in the audit, up from the 36 reported in 2014.

Ninety anti-Semitic incidents were reported on 60 college campuses last year, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014.

The ADL audit recorded 377 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism nationwide in 2015, up slightly from 363 in 2014. In California, there were 69 reports of vandalism, up from 54 in 2014.

The audit recorded 508 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in 2015, down slightly from 513 in 2014. Incidents included verbal attacks and slurs against Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived to be Jewish); anti-Semitism conveyed in written or electronic communications, including anti-Semitic cyberbullying; and anti-Semitic speeches, picketing or events. In California, 105 harassment incidents were reported, down from 127 in 2014.

“We are disturbed that violent anti-Semitic incidents are rising,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s national CEO, said in a statement. “And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported. So even as the total incidents have remained statistically steady from year to year, the trend toward anti-Semitic violence is very concerning.”

Online harassment has increased in recent months, and appears to correspond to the current presidential campaign, the ADL said. Much of the harassment has been directed at Jewish journalists and other public figures. The ADL recently launched a Task Force on Online Harassment and Journalism to investigate the issue of anti-Semitism directed at journalists through social media and to develop recommendations on how to respond to it.

The ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents since 1979.  During the past decade, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents peaked at 1,554 in 2006 and since then has been mostly on the decline. — jta & j. staff