Antisemitic incidents at all-time high, new Anti-Defamation League report finds

A menorah outside F.R.E.E. Synagogue (Friends of Refugees from Eastern Europe) in West Ridge, Chicago. (Damita Menezes/MEDILL)

By Damita Menezes
Medill Reports

The Anti-Defamation League released its annual report on March 23, which showed a 36% increase in antisemitic incidents in the country compared with last year.

A record-high 3,697 confirmed cases of targeted harassment, vandalism and assault toward Jewish people in the United States marks the third time in the past five years the ADL has reported an all-time high in antisemitic incidents.

“People are waking up and the Jewish community and people are recognizing that antisemitism is a threat. It is growing,” said Trent Spoolstra, associate regional director with ADL Midwest.

The rise in antisemitic incidents is part of a broader trend of increasing hate crimes in the U.S., including those against people of color, immigrants and people of various sexual orientations, Spoolstra said.

The reasons for the increase are complex but are not a coincidence, according to Spoolstra.

Spoolstra said the ADL’s survey data from the 1960s and 1970s specifically looked at antisemitic prejudice and how such thoughts and beliefs can lead to actions that harm Jewish individuals and communities.

“One of the things that we teach people is to challenge their stereotypes and to understand common beliefs about Jewish people, and there are a lot of them, unfortunately,” Spoolstra said.

Spoolstra recommended people refer to the ADL’s pyramid of hate model, which provides a framework for understanding how prejudice and discrimination can escalate to the point of hate crimes.

The model has five levels: biased attitudes, acts of prejudice, discrimination, bias-motivated violence and genocide. Each level builds upon the previous one and leads to increasingly severe and destructive actions.

With the rise in antisemitism, a grassroots organization in Chicago is determined to help out.

MAGEN Chicago is a nonprofit that provides security and safety services to the Jewish community. The organization was founded in response to the increase in incidents of antisemitic attacks and threats against the Jewish community in the U.S.

“Knowledge is power, so we want to empower our people,” said Chiam Naiditch, founder of MAGEN Chicago.

They offer a range of services to ensure the safety of the Jewish community, including security assessments of Jewish institutions, training for community members on how to respond to emergencies and the deployment of trained security personnel to synagogues, schools and other Jewish institutions.

The organization also works closely with the Chicago Police Department’s 24th District Place of Worship Safety Advisory Team to share information and coordinate responses to potential threats or incidents.

The ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents has been conducted annually since 1979. It is used by law enforcement and government officials to develop strategies for addressing antisemitism and hate crimes.

Damita Menezes is a graduate student in the video & broadcast specialization. Connect with her on her website