Anti-Semitic Incidents Decrease in Pennsylvania

Of the 43 reported incidents in Pennsylvania, the audit identified 29 cases of harassment, 12 cases of vandalism and two assaults, according to a press release.

The Anti-Defamation League released its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, which saw a slight decrease in cases reported across Pennsylvania.
Of the 43 reported incidents in Pennsylvania, the audit identified 29 cases of harassment, 12 cases of vandalism and two assaults, according to a press release.
The incidents include “throwing eggs at a Jewish middle school student’s bedroom window on the Jewish High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah,” vandalism on synagogue grounds and “a Jewish man receiving a threatening call in the middle of the night from a man identifying himself as a member of the American Nazi Party,” among others.
In Pennsylvania, the 43 reported incidents represent a 10 percent decrease from the 48 reported incidents across the state in 2014.
“While we are encouraged by the modest decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in Pennsylvania, the number of incidents remains too high,” said Nancy K. Baron-Baer, regional director, in the press release. “Sadly, anti-Semitism, ‘the oldest hatred,’ is still strong in the region and across the country. These numbers are much more than mere data — they represent real people and real experiences. The figures do not capture victims’ pain and fear, nor do they measure the impact of hate on individuals, their families, the broader Jewish community and beyond.”
However, the results do show a bit of encouragement, even if it’s just a slight decrease.
“We’re encouraged by the fact that there has been a slight decrease over the previous year, and we’re encouraged that these numbers are at historic lows,” said Jeremy Bannett, assistant regional director for the ADL.
At the same time, he continued, nationally there has been an increased number of assaults against Jews “and that’s a troubling number.”
According to the audit, “the total number of incidents across the U.S. increased 3 percent, from 912 incidents in 2014 to 941 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015.”
While it’s only a slight increase, it’s one that Bannett said is “still something that we should be monitoring and keeping close tabs on.”
The number of incidents reported in the state in 2015 seems consistent with past years, he added. Much of that can be owed to local law enforcement and elected officials vocally condemning anti-Semitic acts.
“Our elected officials condemn anti-Semitism when it happens, and we’re always appreciative for that,” Bannett said. “Community groups are standing together against anti-Semitism when it happens. Our law enforcement takes a strong stand against anti-Semitic crime, so we are optimistic that the institutions that we have in the area are supportive of the fight against anti-Semitism.
“That said,” he continued, “we always need to remain vigilant and speak out whenever anti-Semitism does arise.”
Pennsylvania’s numbers of reported anti-Semitic incidents fall below the three states with the most reported cases.
In New Jersey — whose southern region reports to the regional office in Philadelphia — there were 137 incidents this year, an increase from 107 in 2014. That is the third most in the country behind New York, which had the most reported incidents in 2015 with 198 cases reported, down from 231 the previous year, and California with 175 incidents, down from 184 in 2014.
However, as discouraging as it sounds to detail so many anti-Semitic incidents, the numbers are at historic lows in the last decade, Bannett said.
In the Philadelphia area, the audit detailed 12 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2015, down from 15 in 2014; 29 cases of anti-Semitic harassment including cyberbullying, threats and slurs in 2015, down from 32 in 2014; as well as incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses, though there were no exact numbers detailed.
Incidents on campus account for “10 percent of the total incidents across the country,” Bannett noted.
“Nationally, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus,” he said, adding that it is “concerning” these incidents are occurring. “Nationally, we’ve seen these incidents almost double over the previous year. There were 90 incidents nationally; there were 48 incidents in 2014.”
While the ADL can’t be sure the exact cause of any specific rise or fall in anti-Semitic attitudes, Bannett guessed that the BDS movement could be a contributing factor to the rise of campus anti-Semitism.
The audit details four examples of anti-Semitic incidents — such as a facilities worker who raised his arm in a “Heil Hitler” salute and said l’chaim to a passing Jewish student, and a student who returned to his dorm room to find a swastika and the word “JEW” taped next to his Israeli flag — on campuses including Drexel University, University of the Arts and Temple University.
Bannett noted the audit, which pulls reports from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2015, includes data and incidents reported directly to the ADL and its partners in law enforcement.
“We always say the audit’s only as good as the information that’s given to us,” he said, “so we can encourage anybody who is the victim of an anti-Semitic incident to call the ADL and report it immediately.”
While the results are still higher than they would hope for, Bannett said the ADL will continue its mission to fight anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people until they no longer have to release the audits.
“Nationally, we hope for zero [incidents], but realistically we hope to see a decrease,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re remaining at historic lows for the foreseeable future and the goal, of course, is to eliminate anti-Semitism entirely. Until then, we’re going to keep releasing the audit.”
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