Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).
This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year.
ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, found that antisemitic incidents reached a high watermark across virtually every category.
Attacks against Jewish institutions, including Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues, were up by 61 percent, incidents at K-12 schools increased 106 percent, and incidents on college campuses rose 21 percent.
Assaults – considered the most serious incident type because it involves person-on-person physical violence triggered by antisemitic animus – increased 167 percent, jumping to a total of 88 reports in 2021 from 33 in 2020. Incidents of harassment were up 43 percent, and acts of antisemitic vandalism rose 14 percent.
A substantial surge was reported during the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas. There was a staggering 148 percent increase in reports of antisemitic incidents that month when compared in May 2020, as tensions were high and hundreds of anti-Israel protests took place in dozens of U.S. cities.
“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,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director.
“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.”
“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,” said Greenblatt.
“But 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.”