A new report by the Anti-Defamation League finds anti-Semitic incidents remain at “near-historic levels,” including in Georgia where the watchdog group recorded 30 incidents last year alone.
Allison Padilla-Goodman, the ADL’s regional director in Atlanta, said the report, which has been released annually for 40 years, comes at a time of heightened concern among Jewish communities across the nation.
The report, the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, comes on the heels of a deadly shooting incident Saturday at a synagogue in suburban San Diego. In investigating the 19-year-old accused shooter, police uncovered a deeply anti-Semitic manifesto in which he allegedly describes his motives and planning for the attack.
“Jewish communities across the nation are feeling very vulnerable and under attack,” Padilla-Goodman said. “I don’t think this data would be that surprising to most Jewish people in the United States.”
The report was compiled by the ADL’s Center on Extremism, which tracks all types of extremist incidents. In all, the center recorded 56 incidents in Georgia last year, including the 30 that were explicitly anti-Semitic, ranging from schoolyard bullying and workplace harassment to a Feb. 9, 2018, shootout between police and a black separatist in Locust Grove that left the suspect and a police officer dead.
The Center on Extremism included in its overall calculations the distribution of white supremacist literature and white supremacist demonstrations, including last April’s neo-fascist demonstration in Newnan by the National Socialist Movement.
The ADL report found 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents nationally, down 5 percent from 1,986 a year earlier. There was a similar decline in Georgia. Padilla-Goodman said 2017 was a “record-breaking year” for anti-Semitism and, even with the decline, the ADL recorded the third-highest number of incidents last year since the group started tracking in 1979.
The national decline was in anti-Semitic vandalism, while incidents in harassment and assault rose.
“What we are seeing is a much more aggressive form of anti-Semitism than we have seen in the past,” she said.
The doubling of assaults in 2018 was keyed by the white supremacist shooting spree in a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11.
Although the rise in anti-Semitic incidents tracks back to the 2016 election, Padilla-Goodman said the ALD doesn’t think it possible to “pinpoint this on any one person or administration.”
“But I do think words matter and leaders lead, and it is important for us to see more action from our leadership at all levels,” she said.
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