By Ben Sales
January 10, 2024
(JTA) — Antisemitism in the United States has “skyrocketed” in the three months since Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, according to data tallied by the Anti-Defamation League.
There were 3,283 antisemitic incidents in the United States between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7, according to the ADL’s report — including 60 physical assaults. It also counted 553 incidents of vandalism and 1,353 incidents of harassment.
The total number of incidents during the past three months is more than four times the number that occurred during the same period last year. The figure is higher than the total the group has recorded over the course of any full calendar year aside from 2022. By comparison, the ADL counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents during the entirety of 2021. In the whole of 2014, the year of Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, the ADL recorded just 912 antisemitic incidents.
The main driver of antisemitism over the past three months, according to the group, is the Israel-Hamas war that began with the Oct. 7 invasion: The ADL said two-thirds of the incidents “included verbal, written, or contextual references to Israel or Zionism.” Forty percent of the incidents tallied in Wednesday’s report — a total of 1,317 — were pro-Palestinian rallies that included “expressions of support for terrorism against the state of Israel and/or anti-Zionism.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has repeatedly stressed, both before and after Oct. 7, that the group views anti-Zionism as tantamount to antisemitism. Surveys have shown that majorities of American Jews feel attached to Israel and say that opposition to its right to exist is antisemitic. Greenblatt said in a statement Wednesday that “In this difficult moment, antisemitism is spreading and mutating in alarming ways.”
The ADL’s equation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, however, has put the organization at odds with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, which are anti- or non-Zionist and which have focused their criticism on Israel since Oct. 7. Greenblatt has referred to those organizations as “hate groups.” The ADL’s stances have also reportedly led to dissent and resignations, as Jewish Currents reported that four staffers quit the group in protest of the group’s policies following Oct. 7.
Hundreds more of the incidents involved fake bomb threats mailed or called into synagogues or other Jewish institutions — a practice known as “swatting” that had occurred prior to Oct. 7, aiming to prompt a law enforcement response, and has continued at a large scale since. During one December weekend, hundreds of synagogues across the country received false bomb threats.
Wednesday’s report also said that since Oct. 7, there have been 505 antisemitic incidents at college campuses — an arena that has been a major focus of antisemitism watchdogs as well as elected officials during the Israel-Gaza war. Another 246 incidents occurred at K-12 schools, the report said. A string of universities and school districts have been subject to federal civil rights investigations over their handling of antisemitism post-Oct 7.
The 60 assaults – 20 per month – are more than double the monthly average of around 11 the ADL recorded in 2022. In the most severe incident since Oct. 7, a Jewish man died after being struck on the head at dueling pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies in southern California. At Columbia University, an Israeli student was allegedly assaulted during a dispute over hanging posters with pictures of hostages held by Hamas. A man has also been arrested for an alleged hate crime assault of an Israeli in Times Square.
The ADL could not say what portion of the assaults, nor how many of the campus incidents, took place during demonstrations related to the war.
The ADL’s surveys compile data from law enforcement, media reports and incidents reported directly to the organization.
The report did not break incidents down by location or date, though a previous ADL report, released last month, suggests that the pace of antisemitism has remained steady since Oct. 7. In December, the ADL reported that it had tallied 2,031 antisemitic incidents including 40 assaults over the first two months of the war. Taken together with this report, that means there have been a little over 1,000 incidents, and 20 assaults, per month.