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Top Ten Heartbreaking Moments of Hate in 2022 and How ADL Responded

Memorial for Lives Lost at Club Q

Despite the end of the pandemic and a return to a greater sense of normalcy in the U.S., the year 2022, like the year before, was marked by a series of heart-wrenching setbacks in the fight against hate. Antisemitism and other forms of hate showed no signs of abating, as high-profile celebrities gave voice to hateful canards and hateful incidents continued to target marginalized communities across the country. There were brazen acts of hate, such as the Buffalo supermarket shooting, the Colleyville hostage crisis and the antisemitic Boston Mapping Project; and there were disappointing developments such as a rise in attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and the banning of a Holocaust story in Tennessee. Each of these ranked as one of ADL’s heartbreaking moments of hate in 2022. Here’s our list of the Top Ten, as curated by ADL’s experts and staff.

Antisemitism reaches crisis levels

Resist Hate on Sign at Gathering

Coming off of a year when antisemitic incidents had already reached historic levels, the year 2022 opened with one of the scariest scenarios imaginable – a hostage crisis inside a synagogue, something the Jewish community had prepared for, but hoped would never happen -- and continued with a series of incidents targeting Jews that showed no sign of slowing down as the year progressed. From the Boston Mapping Project to incidents targeting Jewish students on campus, it seemed as if antisemitism had reached a crisis point in the U.S. And as the year came to a close, there was a series of high-profile antisemitic statements and incidents involving celebrities. And there was no letup of in-your-face antisemitic assaults on the streets of Brooklyn, or against Jewish institutions, which were already up 60 percent in 2021, and have since multiplied at disturbing levels. Since June 2022, at least 121 antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish institutions were reported to ADL; it is likely that this number will grow once data for the year is finalized. Synagogues across the country have borne the brunt of antisemitic threats -- in the last six months more than 60 of those incidents targeted Jewish houses of worship.

White supremacist attacks Buffalo supermarket; Believed “Great Replacement Theory”

Buffalo Tops Supermarket

A white supremacist who subscribed to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that American Jews were involved in a plot to “replace” white people with people of color, opened fire in a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10 people and injuring three others before he was apprehended by law enforcement. After the shooting, ADL uncovered images of weapons, armor and other gear owned by the perpetrator, some of which were covered with white supremacist symbols, messages and phrases. The horrific shooting, which left an entire community grieving, led to renewed calls from ADL and others for a whole-of government and society approach to address the growing problem of domestic extremism, and prompted the president to hold a first-ever White House summit on violent domestic extremism. The shooting presented yet another reminder of how virulent antisemitic conspiracies spreading online can have deadly consequences in the real world, traumatizing everyday Americans.

Colleyville synagogue hostage crisis

Colleyville synagogue in Texas

On a cold Shabbat morning last January, a man armed with a handgun took a rabbi and three of his Jewish congregants hostage inside a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas after the rabbi offered him a cup of tea. At first, it wasn’t immediately apparent why the U.K.-based terrorist had chosen such a far-flung outpost to carry out an attack. But as the FBI entered into hostage negotiations, it soon became clear that the perpetrator was infected with deeply held antisemitic beliefs – the notion that all Jews have a direct control over government – and wanted them to use their “power” to help free a Muslim terrorist being held in a nearby prison. The hostage crisis extended for 11 hours, until Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker had the presence of mind, when the terrorist was distracted, to throw a chair and escaped with the other hostages through a side door. The rabbi later said he managed to live through the ordeal and to escape without harm thanks to security training he’d received from ADL, and he’s now working alongside ADL to pass on that knowledge to others.

The Boston “Mapping Project” targets Jews across Massachusetts

Zionism is Racism on sign at Anti Israel rally

In an effort to name, shame and blame Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts for identifying with the state of Israel, unidentified anti-Israel activists created an interactive map pinpointing the locations of Jewish community organizations in Massachusetts, blaming them for supporting “the colonization of Palestine,” and other perceived harms such as “policing, US imperialism and displacement.” In all, approximately 500 organizations were named in the BDS Boston-endorsed project, which included a disturbing and antisemitic call to “dismantle” and disrupt” most of Boston’s Jewish community. In response, ADL joined with others in the Boston Jewish community in denouncing this effort to blame and scapegoat Jews in America and in working to build bridges and support allies in confronting antisemitism.

Attacks on LGBTQ+ community, anti-Trans bills and “Don’t Say Gay”

Memorial for Lives Lost at Club Q

In early December, a suspect wearing body armor entered Club Q, a nightclub and sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs, and opened fire with a military-style assault rifle, killing five people and wounding as many as 20 others in what authorities are calling a hate crime. While the suspect’s motives remained unclear, the shooting sent shock waves through the LTBTQ+ community -- already reeling from a string of hate crimes and assaults, including physical violence, death threats, intimidation, conspiracy theories, misinformation and more. The Proud Boys and other groups continued to target the LGBTQ+ community with extremist events. And making matters worse, state legislators proposed or passed a series of bills that sought to effectively marginalize the community, such as a Florida bill opponents dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gaybill, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation in elementary schools up to third grade. And a wave of at least 300 new state laws attempted to restrict everything from gender affirming health care to bathroom bills blocking trans students from using restrooms that don’t correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Amazon’s failure to remove antisemitic film

Amazon Box

Organizations representing a number of Jewish communities across the U.S. came together to voice concern after the online retailing giant Amazon refused to remove a book and film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which had received significant attention due to a since-deleted tweet by basketball star Kyrie Irving. The book and film propagate antisemitic tropes about Jewish power, control and greed, minimize the Holocaust and allege a global Jewish conspiracy. Thanks to Irving’s tweet, the book and film shot to #1 on Amazon’s bestsellers list, and while representatives of Amazon initially went so far as to tell the New York Times that they would take action, nothing happened, and the platform’s executives indicated that nothing, not even a disclaimer, was being planned to address it. Over 12,400 ADL volunteers have written to Amazon to urge them to address the issue. ADL continues to urge Amazon to remove these products and to conduct a top-to-bottom search of the platform for other similar works that promote antisemitism, racism, white supremacy and hate.

Kanye West uses global platform to promote hateful antisemitic views

Kanye West

Over a period of a few weeks in October to December, Kanye West (or “Ye” as he wants to be called) established himself as one of the most pre-eminent antisemites in the country, if not the world.  His hatefest included accusations about Jews controlling the music industry and owning the “black voice” -- both classic antisemitic tropes. Making matters worse, Ye palled around with notorious white supremacists and appeared with one of the nation’s most notorious conspiracy theorists, where he extolled the virtues of Adolf Hitler and denied the Holocaust. If the message wasn’t clear enough, he vowed to “go death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE” in a tweet to his audience of more than 36 million Twitter followers. His words did not fall on deaf ears: Last week, a 63-year-old Jewish man was attacked in New York’s Central Park by an attacker who made a series of antisemitic comments and yelled “Kanye 2024” before fleeing on a bicycle. And white supremacists are celebrating Ye’s antisemitic remarks in typical fashion, hanging banners on highway overpasses saying “Kanye was right.” West continues to weather fallout for his remarks, including the loss of large business deals including with adidas, which cancelled Ye’s contract and entered into a four-year partnership with ADL to promote anti-bias initiatives in sports and in schools. Almost 19,000 ADL volunteers contacted Adidas to help make this happen.

Israeli civilians targeted in more than 2,200 terror attacks in 2022

Terror attack in Israel

Israelis were targeted in a wave of deadly attacks including shootings, stabbings and car-ramming attacks that reached deep into Israeli cities including Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Hadera and Bnei Brak. Between mid-March and early May, at least 19 people were killed in Israel and the West Bank by Palestinian terrorists. In April, a shooting attack in Tel Aviv killed three civilians; and in May, three Israelis were killed and four wounded in an attack coinciding with Israel’s Independence Day. And in November, three Israeli civilians were murdered by a terrorist near the West bank settlement of Ariel. The IDF recorded more than 300 shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank, up from 91 last year. According to the Times of Israel, 2022 was one of the region’s deadliest years in recent memory.

Former President Trump dines with white supremacist and Kanye West

Former President Trump and Kanye West

After he made a series of antisemitic statements and vowed to go “death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE,” Kanye West was granted an entrance at Mar-a-Lago where he sat down to dinner with former President Trump and notorious white supremacist Nick Fuentes. While the former president insisted he did not know who Fuentes was ahead of the dinner, he nonetheless refused to apologize for hosting the two antisemitic figures, prompting an immediate backlash from politicians across the board, including from many within his own party. Republican leaders, including former Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, criticized the president for meeting with a white nationalist and with West, but others were more circumspect. Meanwhile, Trump continued to insist that he hadn’t done nothing wrong and maintained that he would have called out antisemitic remarks from either figure had either expressed hateful views at the meal.

Classic Holocaust-themed graphic novel banned in Tennessee

Cover of Graphic Novel Maus

In one of a growing number of attempts by local school boards to inject politics into education and amid a rash of decisions across the U.S. to remove books from libraries following orders from state elected officials or challenges from parents, a Tennessee school board voted in January to remove the graphic novel “Maus” from its eighth-grade curriculum, citing concerns over themes it deemed offensive. “Maus,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, is a Holocaust story depicting Nazis as cats and Jews as mice. The removal of his book prompted a surge of criticism from Holocaust educators, scholars and Jewish organizations, who pointed out that the Nazis also banned books and that the lessons of the Holocaust need to be taught, because antisemitism isn’t just history – it's a current event.