ADL audit: anti-Semitic acts more than doubled in 2018

The American Jewish community continued to experience “near-historic levels” of anti-Semitism, according to the latest figures from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The data released on Tuesday, April 30 confirms 2018 was the third-highest year on record for attacks since 1979,  the year ADL began keeping track of  these kinds of attacks.

ADL South Central Region director Aaron Ahlquist. (Photo by Alan Smason)

This year’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents listed 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.

While the national figures do include the deadly attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life/L’Or Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh that claimed 11 lives – the worst single attack on the U.S. Jewish community – it does not include any reference to the attack at the Chabad of Poway, California center, which occurred this past Saturday.

The ADL identified a “dramatic surge in white supremacist propaganda activity nationwide.” According to the ADL audit, 59 victims of anti-Semitic assault were recorded, up from 21 in 2017. Curiously, the overall number of anti-Semitic incidents registered a 5 percent decline, but last year’s figures were still “48 percent higher than the total for 2016 and 99 percent higher than in 2015,” according to the ADL’s figures. 

Figures for Louisiana confirm that the number of reported incidents investigated by the ADL’s South Central Region office increased from 10 to 12 from 2017 to 2018, including several high visibility cases. 

The anti-Semitic spray-painting incident at NJC synagogue in Mandeville. (Photo via

These include the spray-painting of anti-Semitic graffiti on the Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville, the desecration of two Jewish cemeteries, synagogue, and the painting of  swastikas on a Jewish apartment window. The incidents were broken down further as seven being classified as anti-Semitic vandalism and five cases listed as harrassment.

“2018 showed us that anti-Semitism is very real and present in Louisiana,” said Aaron Ahlquist, the ADL’s South Central Regional director.  “The tragedies of 2018 impact us all, and we will remain vigilant and stand together against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. In the face of the what we have experienced, we call upon our leaders to take an active role in calling out and addressing the rising anti-Semitism in our society, and work to put an end to hate.”

ADL’s CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt agreed. “We’ve worked hard to push back against anti-Semitism, and succeeded in improving hate crime laws, and yet we continue to experience an alarmingly high number of anti-Semitic acts,” he said.

ADL CEO and national director Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt in 2015. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

“We unfortunately saw this trend continue into 2019 with the tragic shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway. It’s clear we must remain vigilant in working to counter the threat of violent anti-Semitism and denounce it in all forms, wherever the source and regardless of the political affiliation of its proponents.”

According to the ADL figures, 46 out of 50 states saw a rise in anti-Semtic activity. The report indicated “high levels of white supremacist activity, including propaganda on college campuses and in communities, and hateful robocalls aimed at voters.”

A closer look shows the audit as being broken down into three categories: assault, harassment and vandalism.

Here are the findings broken down by categories:

In addition, the audit listed the number of places where attacks occurred. These included private residences, businesses and retail establishments, Jewish schools and other institutions:

While noting that most attacks were not organized by well-known extremist groups, the data indicates that the 2018 total demonstrated the “highest  level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremists or extremist groups since 2004.” Many of these incidents include hate-laced fliers and so-called “robocalls” initiated on behalf of a white supremacist candidate in California.

The report also indicated that the final three months of the year were unusually active with  255 incidents registered in October, 300 additional incidents in November and 194 in December. 

Those states with the highest concentration of Jewish population continue to lead the nation, according to the ADL’s audit. States listed include California (341); New York (340); New Jersey (200) and Massachusetts (144). According to the ADL audit, they “accounted for more than half of the total incidents in the U.S.”

The ADL’s annual audit is an attempt to statistically account for anti-Semitic activity in a measurable manner.  “Since 1979 the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents produced by the Anti-Defamation League has been an incredibly valuable resource for researchers and policymakers,” said Jack McDevitt, Director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University.

“The audit identifies trends and emerging issues in hate crimes and analyzes these trends in ways that allow policymakers to address the issues in their jurisdiction. The increased number of anti-Semitic incidents tied to extremist groups is deeply troubling and should be addressed immediately by police and prosecutors.”


Share Button