Antisemitic incidents in the United States rose 34% last year to 2,717 reports of assault, harassment and vandalism, the Anti-Defamation League said Wednesday.
The number of attacks is at its highest level since ADL began tracking such incidents in 1979.
ADL said attacks against synagogues and Jewish community centers rose 61%, while incidents at K-12 schools more than doubled, increasing 106%. At college campuses, incidents were up 21%.
“When it comes to antisemitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system, and in many cases, we simply don’t know the motivation,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.
“We do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that’s a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures,” he said.
The organization said 88 physical attacks on Jews were reported in 2021, a 167% increase over the previous year. Incidents of harassment were up 43 percent, and acts of antisemitic vandalism rose 14%.
Antisemitic incidents were reported in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The states with the highest number of incidents were New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112). Combined, these states accounted for 58% of the total incidents reported.
The fighting between Israel and Hamas in May of last year prompted a 148% increase in reports of antisemitic incidents versus May 2020, the ADL said. The group said Jews were “violently beaten in the streets from New York [City] to Los Angeles.”
Of the 387 antisemitic attacks reported in May 2021, 297 took place after the May 10 start of military action against Hamas, which the U.S. has listed as a terrorist organization since 1997.
“While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away.”
Security has been an increasing concern for Jewish institutions in the United States after the fatal shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018, and Poway, California, in 2019, as well as the siege at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022 that resulted in the death of the hostage-taker but none of the hostages.
In March, President Biden signed a budget bill that increased federal funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $250 million, a 40% rise over the previous fiscal year.
The grants, advocated by the Orthodox Union and other groups, provide money to bolster building security at day schools, houses of worship and nonprofits that are deemed at risk of terrorism.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel credited the security training he received via the grant program with helping him distract 44-year-old Malik Akram, a British Pakistani, and enabling the hostages to escape unharmed.