Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

Discussing Anti-Semitism: A Guide for Reflection and Conversation

  • May 12, 2020

In 2020, ADL tracked 2,024 antisemitic incidents across the U.S., the third highest year recorded since ADL began tracking such incidents in 1979. Incidents remained at historically high levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, Jews and other minorities were blamed for the spread of the virus, a longstanding false trope that has long fueled antisemitism in the United States and around the world. The antisemitic myths and tropes used today echo the same myths and tropes used for the past thousand years or more. Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Antisemitism is not only about defaming and attacking the Jewish community; it’s a symptom of a larger issue. Those who act on their antisemitic biases also have and perpetuate biases against other marginalized people and communities, including those based on racism, anti-Muslim bias and more.

The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents accounts for assaults, vandalism and harassment, but we know that there are many unreported incidents of antisemitism, from jokes to microaggressions to internet posts that normalize antisemitic rhetoric and ideologies. While antisemitic incidents decreased 4% from 2019 to 2020, they still remain at near an all-time high. The findings include 161 incidents in K-12 schools in 2020, a marked decrease from the previous year. As lockdowns related to the pandemic began in March, incidents in schools and on college campuses decreased as learning moved online while “Zoombombing” – the intentional disruption of live videoconferences - rose significantly in 2020. There were 196 incidents of zoombombing recording in the Audit during 2020.

In order to better understand and unpack ADL’s audit on antisemitism, these discussion guides provide a way to initiate conversation about how antisemitism impacts both the Jewish community and the United States at large, and what we can do about it. These resources are intended to enable you to initiate conversations with your peers, colleagues, family and community about antisemitism and other forms of hate. 

Download discussion guides below:

Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry