Press Release

ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Assaults Rise Dramatically Across the Country in 2015

Anti-Semitic Incidents on American College Campuses Nearly Doubled

New York, NY, June 22, 2016 … The number of violent anti-Semitic assaults taking place in the United States rose dramatically last year, contributing to a three (3) percent rise in the total number of anti-Jewish incidents reported in 2015, according to new data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, recorded a total of 941 incidents in the U.S. in 2015, an increase of about 3 percent from the 912 incidents recorded in 2014.

Fifty-six incidents were assaults, the most violent anti-Semitic category – representing a more than 50 percent rise from the 36 assaults reported in 2014.

Another troubling finding: anti-Semitic incidents at colleges and universities nearly doubled last year. A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014.

Campus anti-Semitic incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total incidents reported in the U.S. in 2015.

“We are disturbed that violent anti-Semitic incidents are rising,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported. So even as the total incidents have remained statistically steady from year to year, the trend toward anti-Semitic violence is very concerning.”

Overall, anti-Semitic incident totals in the U.S. are historically low, according to ADL, which has been keeping track of anti-Semitic incidents since 1979.  During the last decade, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents peaked at 1,554 in 2006 and has been mostly on the decline ever since.

“The good news is the number of anti-Semitic incidents overall are much lower than we witnessed in the mid-2000s,” said Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair.  “While that decrease is encouraging, it is troubling that on average there is one anti-Semitic assault reported in this country every week, and at least two anti-Jewish incidents on average every single day. These numbers do not even account for all of the online harassment we see every hour on social media, which is so widespread it is difficult to quantify.”

ADL witnessed an explosion of hate online, especially on social media platforms in 2015. While the Audit includes incidents of online anti-Semitism reported to ADL in which an individual or institution is explicitly targeted, it does not count general anti-Semitic expressions online.

“Online hate is particularly disturbing because of the ubiquity of social media and its deep penetration into our daily lives, plus the anonymity offered by certain platforms which facilitates this phenomenon,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “The issue has grown exponentially in recent years because the Internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions. We plan to adapt future versions of the Audit to account for such online harassment.”

ADL has been monitoring the recent spike on such harassment, which seems to have corresponded to the political season, with a large amount of this vitriol directed at journalists and other public figures. ADL recently launched a Task Force on Online Harassment and Journalism to investigate the issue of anti-Semitism directed at journalists through social media and to develop recommendations on how to respond to it. Advisors to this group include thought leaders from academia, industry, journalism, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations. The Task Force will report publicly on its findings and recommendations in the next three months.

In 2015, anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Those incidents are categorized in the ADL Audit as follows:

  • Assaults: 56 incidents reported in 2015, compared with 36 in 2014
  • Vandalism: 377 incidents in 2015, compared with 363 in 2014
  • Harassment, threats and events: 508 incidents in 2015, compared with 513 in 2014


Continuing a consistent trend for many years, the states with the highest totals of anti-Semitic incidents were those with large Jewish populations. Once again, New York and California topped the list:

The complete list of state-by-state figures is available on the League’s web site.

Selected Incidents in 2015: Anti-Semitic Assaults

ADL reported a total of 56 anti-Semitic assaults on Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived as Jewish) in 2015, up from 36 in 2014. Incidents involved the use of physical force and/or violence, spitting and thrown objects.  Forty-four of the 56 assault incidents (79 percent) were reported in New York State.

The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic assaults in 2015:

  • Brooklyn, NY: A Hasidic man and his son were walking home from synagogue when they were shot at with paintballs. Two other Hasidic males were shot by paintballs earlier on the same day in the same area. (March)
  • Staten Island, NY: A man walking home was struck in the head with a rock. The man asked a group of teenagers if they threw the rock, and one of the perpetrators approached him and yelled, “Yeah motherf-----, we threw the rock at you…Let’s knock the yarmulke off his head. Let’s kill this motherf-----. Should we beat him?” The three perpetrators were arrested. (June)
  • Denver, CO: A high school student wearing a kippah was approached by two other high school students who made statements including “Hey Jewboy, come over here,” and “Hey Jewboy, do my bills for me.” One of the assailants then shouted, “Hey you kike, when I talk to you, you talk back,” before throwing a large rock hitting the victim on his back. (July)
  • Brooklyn, NY: A group of three men on bicycles approached a Hassidic man, struck him in the foot, and yelled “Heil Hitler” before fleeing the scene. (August)
  • Queens, NY: During the High Holy Days, two Jewish victims wearing garb that would identify them as Jewish were shot with BB gun pellets. (September)
  • Boca Raton, FL: A rabbinical student was walking when an assailant on a bike shouted at him that “Jews should go back to Auschwitz. Hitler was right.” The student replied, “Why don’t you come back here and say that?” The cyclist rode back to the rabbinical student, repeated the remark and then began to strike the student, who hit his head on the pavement before the assailant fled. (November)
  • Brooklyn, NY: Two people were walking home from synagogue when four unknown perpetrators approached them and threw eggs at them. The perpetrators stated, “You f------ Jews, I’m going to kill you!” (November)

Selected Incidents in 2015: Anti-Semitic Acts on Campus

The ADL Audit reported a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus in 2015.  A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses, compared with 47 such incidents reported on 43 campuses in 2014.

“Despite the increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus, such incidents are still relatively rare and the vast majority of Jewish students report feeling safe on their campuses,” said Mr. Greenblatt. “When such incidents do occur, they are generally condemned by administrators and the wider campus communities at their respective colleges.”

The following is a list of selected anti-Jewish incidents that took place on campuses in 2015:

  • Davis, CA: Vandals spray-painted swastikas on the exterior wall of a Jewish fraternity (AEPi) at UC Davis on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from the Nazis. (January)
  • Washington, D.C.: Three swastikas were drawn inside a George Washington University residence hall. (February)
  • Berkeley, CA: The phrase “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was found in a campus restroom, not long after a swastika was found on a university owned building. (March)
  • Nashville, TN: Swastikas were spray-painted inside the house of a Jewish fraternity (AEPi) at Vanderbilt University. (March)
  • Philadelphia, PA: At Drexel, a student came back to his residence hall to find a swastika and the word “JEW” taped next to his Israeli flag. (May)
  • New Brunswick, NJ: On Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish Rutgers University student wearing a yarmulke was approached by two other students on campus, one of whom stated, “Yeah, I’d wear a yarmulke too…If I wanted to burn in Auschwitz!” (September)
  • New Haven, CT: A sign was discovered near Yale’s campus that read “YALE IS A JEW HOLE –LET’S ROUND THEM UP.” (October)
  • College Park, MD: A swastika and anti-Semitic epithets were drawn on a dry-erase board on a student’s door at the University of Maryland. Two of the three residents of the room were Jewish. (November)
  • New York, NY: Anti-Semitic slogans were chanted at a protest at CUNY-Hunter College in Manhattan after organizers on Facebook called for participants to oppose the school’s “Zionist administration.” Protesters, who ostensibly gathered to fight for free tuition and other benefits, shouted, “Zionists out of CUNY! Zionists out of CUNY!” (November)

Selected Incidents in 2015: Anti-Jewish Vandalism

The ADL Audit recorded 377 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2015, up slightly from 363 in 2014. Vandalism incidents are individually evaluated by ADL and are categorized as anti-Semitic based on the presence of anti-Semitic symbols or language; the identity of the perpetrator(s), if known; and the target of the vandalism and its proximity to Jewish homes, communities and institutions.

The 2015 Audit includes in its totals swastikas and hate symbols that targeted Jewish property or communal institutions. Swastikas targeting other minorities or those used out of context simply for shock value were not counted.

The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2015:

  • Brooklyn, NY: “All Jews Must Die” written in marker on an advertisement on a subway station platform. (February)
  • Lakewood, NJ: A Jewish man’s store was vandalized with the word “JUDE” painted numerous times on the store’s windows and signs. (February)
  • Dallas, TX: A swastika was drawn on the back of the rabbi’s car parked at his synagogue. (March)
  • Northumberland County, PA: Two swastikas, two crosses, and the word “b----” were written in chalk on the side of a synagogue. (April)
  • Hennepin County, MN: A Jewish institution had a swastika and “Heil Hitler” scratched into its playground equipment. (May)
  • San Diego, CA: A woman returned home to find swastika graffiti on her mezuzah and graffiti on the floor of a Star of David and the words “Jew Pig.” (August)
  • Bergen County, NJ: A swastika was painted on a Jewish family’s driveway. (October)
  • Denver, CO: A Jewish man had a swastika painted on the back of his truck. (November)
  • Austin, TX: Graffiti including swastikas, “f--- Jews,” and other derogatory statements were found on two bus stops near a Jewish institution. (December)

Selected Incidents in 2015: Harassment, Threats and Events

The ADL Audit recorded 508 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in 2015, down slightly from 513 in 2014. Incidents included verbal attacks and slurs against Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived to be Jewish); anti-Semitism conveyed in written or electronic communications, including anti-Semitic cyberbullying; and anti-Semitic speeches, picketing or events.

The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic harassment in 2015:

  • Washington, D.C.: A series of anti-Semitic threats were made to employees of a Jewish owned business. Some calls threatened to carry out a mass murder. (January)
  • Fulton County, GA: A synagogue received a voice mail in which a male voice said he would deliver a furnace to the synagogue and asked how many people it could contain. He also called the congregation roaches. (February)
  • Las Vegas, NV: A woman’s property manager referred to her as “Jew b----.”(May)
  • Ozaukee County, WI: In a voicemail to a Jewish facility, a man said, “You should have all been killed in the Holocaust.” (August)
  • San Diego, CA: Three Jewish institutions received similar hand-written letters threatening Jews with death and telling Jews to get out of “our white country” and to “take the Muslims with you.” The letters also blamed wars on “scumbag, grimy Jews.” There were other threats and assertions about Jews and the letter was signed “W.A.R.-White Aryan Resistance.” (December)
  • Albuquerque, NM: A middle school student defaced a teacher’s photo with a swastika and another student greeted the teacher with a Nazi salute and the word “Heil.” (December)

About the ADL Audit

The Audit identifies both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs.  Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides an annual snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.