Report

Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents: Year in Review 2018

2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

Executive Summary

Throughout each year, ADL’s (Anti-Defamation League) Center on Extremism tracks incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault in the United States. Since 1979, we have published this information in an annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.

  • In 2018 ADL recorded 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. 
  • 2018 included the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the U.S.: The massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers, and an additional two more injured, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by a white supremacist in October. The Pittsburgh attack was one of 39 reported physical assaults on Jewish individuals in 2018, a 105% increase over 2017. A total of 59 individuals were victims of assault, not including the police officers injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
  • Of the 1,879 incidents in 2018, 1,066 were cases of harassment, an increase of 5% from 2017; and 774 were cases of vandalism, a decrease of 19% from 952 in 2017.
  • In 2018, ADL recorded 249 anti-Semitic incidents attributed to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology. This represents 13% of the total number of incidents and is the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremist individuals or groups since 2004. These incidents were the result of an anti-Semitic fliering campaign and of a series of robocalls perpetrated by a neo-Nazi. Nearly half of the incidents of harassment targeting Jewish institutions were the work of known white supremacists or extremists.
  • K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, continue to be the scenes of significant numbers of anti-Semitic incidents. ADL recorded 344 incidents at K-12 non-Jewish schools in 2018 (down from 457 in 2017), and 201 incidents at colleges and universities (down from 204 in 2017).
  • In 2018 there were 265 reported incidents at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, a decrease of 23% from the previous year, but still markedly higher than the 170 incidents reported in 2016.
  • ADL has tracked anti-Semitic incidents for the past four decades and in 2018 recorded the third-highest number of incidents. The total of 2018 incidents decreased by 5% from the 1,986 incidents ADL recorded in 2017. The 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016 and 99% higher than in 2015.
  • ADL has included a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for civil society, governmental and technology sector leaders to help them in the fight against the scourge of anti-Semitism, at the end of the report. These include recommendations aimed at assessing and combating the rise of online anti-Semitism, which is not tracked in this report other than with regard to specific reported instances of direct targeting, but which ADL has been analyzing in other reports.
  • The complete dataset of anti-Semitic incidents for 2016-2018 is available on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart anti-Semitic incidents and extremist activity nationally and regionally. Note that some details have been removed from the incident listings to ensure the privacy of victims.

Introduction

Since 1979 ADL has published an annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents — a tally and analysis of incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault in the United States which we have become aware of over the course of each year. These incidents include criminal and non-criminal expressions of anti-Semitism. The vast majority of the incidents in the Audit were reported to us by constituents; they are supplemented by media reports, information shared with us by law enforcement agencies and reports of extremist activity by ADL experts working in the Center on Extremism (COE).

The Audit offers insight into one of the ways that American Jews encounter anti-Semitism, but a full understanding of anti-Semitism in the US requires other forms of analysis as well, including but not limited to public opinion polling, assessments of online anti-Semitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports and on its website. Although the Audit includes instances where anti-Israel activism adopts overt anti-Semitic expressions, it does not include much of the non-anti-Semitic anti-Israel rhetoric and organizing which nevertheless makes many American Jews feel uncomfortable and insecure.

Accounting for the role of online anti-Semitism is particularly challenging. The Audit includes cases where individuals or groups reported being targeted with anti-Semitic content in direct messages or on social media, but it only scratches the surface of the broader anti-Semitic online ecosystem, which ranges from hardcore white supremacist forums and jihadi messaging apps; to the conspiratorial fever-swamps of 8chan, 4chan, Gab and other niche social media platforms; to the millions of anti-Semitic tweets, podcasts, posts and videos that one may find on mainstream websites, social media and gaming networks. ADL continues to analyze the diverse ways in which anti-Semitism thrives, recruits adherents online and can incite violence. ADL works with government and civil society organizations, including academic institutions and tech industry leaders to help fight hateful content while preserving freedom of speech.

The Audit will examine the trends that can be discerned by careful examination of the recorded incidents. In some cases, it will be possible to identify causes for increases and decreases in specific incident types, but because many of the perpetrators of incidents are never identified it is difficult to establish causal explanations for much of what the numbers reveal. The report will conclude with an explanation of our methodology and a set of policy recommendations for civil society, governmental and technology sector leaders to help them in the fight against the scourge of anti-Semitism.

Major Findings

In 2018 ADL identified 1,879 reported anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States. The states with the highest numbers of incidents were California: 341, New York: 340, New Jersey: 200 and Massachusetts: 144. Combined, these states account for more than half (55%) of the total number of incidents. 

 

ADL has tracked anti-Semitic incidents for the past four decades and in 2018 recorded the third-highest number of incidents. The total of 2018 incidents decreased by 5% from the 1,986 incidents ADL recorded in 2017. The 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016 and 99% higher than in 2015.

 

The 1,879 incidents are divided into three major categories: Harassment (where a Jewish person or group of people feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of another person or group); Vandalism (where property is damaged in a manner that indicates the presence of anti-Semitic animus or in a manner that attacks Jews for their religious affiliation); and Assault (where people’s bodies are targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus). In 2018, there were 1,066 cases of harassment, an increase of 5% from 2017; 774 cases of vandalism, a decrease of 19% from 2017; and 39 cases of assault, an increase of 105% from 2017.

 


Anti-Semitic incidents occurred in a wide variety of locations including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks, streets and public buildings, Jewish institutions, K-12 schools and college and university campuses. The most common locations for anti-Semitic incidents were: public areas (476 incidents); K-12 non-Jewish schools (344 incidents); private homes (276 incidents) and Jewish institutions (265 incidents).

 

 

 


Incidents were unevenly distributed throughout the year. Reports from January, February, March, April, June, July, August and September all ranged between 101 and 137 incidents each. Incidents spiked in May, when 209 incidents were recorded, mostly as a result of a series of anti-Semitic robocalls sent by white supremacists, which targeted Jewish individuals and institutions with harassing messages. The final three months of the year were also unusually active compared to other months, with 255 incidents in October, 300 in November and 194 in December. Part of the increase in October stemmed from 45 cases of anti-Semitic propaganda distributed by white supremacists, including 35 separate distributions of a flier that blamed Jews for the fraught confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. While fluctuations in incident reporting are difficult to assess with precision, the high number of incidents in November and December may be the result of increased reporting rates in the aftermath of the October 27, 2018, massacre of Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh.

 
 


The complete dataset of anti-Semitic incidents for 2016-2018 is available on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart anti-Semitic incidents and extremist activity nationally and regionally. Note that some details have been removed from the incident listings to ensure the privacy of victims.

1) Pittsburgh Shooting and Jewish Victims of Assault

In 2018 there were 39 known anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. An anti-Semitic assault is defined in the Audit as an attempt to inflict physical harm on one or more people who are Jewish or perceived to be Jewish, accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus.

One of the incidents was the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, when a white supremacist named Robert Bowers allegedly entered the synagogue and opened fire with semi-automatic weapons, killing 11 worshippers and injuring two others (an additional four law enforcement officers were injured while responding to the shooting). Bowers is reported to have yelled, “All Jews must die” during his assault, and subsequent investigations revealed that he had held strong white supremacist and anti-Semitic beliefs for years. The assault is the deadliest known attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. Although there were 13 congregant casualties, the assault is counted as one incident in the Audit. Our standard methodology is to cluster together multiple victims into a single incident when an action targets a single group in a discrete time and place.

When the number of victims is disaggregated from the 39 known anti-Semitic assaults in 2018, the total number of victims of anti-Semitic assaults is 59, including the 13 victims of the Tree of Life shooting. The remaining 46 victims of anti-Semitic assaults were attacked in or near retail establishments (four), a sports arena (one), college campuses (five), homes (two), Jewish institutions (two), non-Jewish K-12 schools (two) and public areas (30). The assaults included attempted knifings, chokings, punches, thrown items and vehicular rammings.  The 11 fatalities in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting were the only deadly anti-Semitic assaults in 2018.

The 2017 Audit counted 19 anti-Semitic assaults with a total of 21 victims and no fatalities.

2)  Extremist Groups / Individuals
Known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for 249 anti-Semitic incidents, representing 13% of the total for 2018. This is the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremists or extremist groups since 2004, when at least 128 incidents were the result of leaflet distributions by white supremacist groups.

Fliering Campaigns

Of the 249 incidents attributable to hate groups or extremists, 142 took the form of anti-Semitic fliers and/or banners, which are categorized as harassment. The vast majority of these distributions were part of coordinated campaigns by white supremacist groups, particularly Daily Stormer Book Clubs and Loyal White Knights (one of the largest and most active Klan groups in the U.S.).  The flier distributions are designed not only to spread and normalize anti-Semitism, but also to recruit new members, draw media attention and, in the words of the Daily Stormer website, to “trigger the living hell out of Jews and their leftist acolytes.”

The Daily Stormer Book Clubs’ 2018 fliering campaigns blamed Jews for: Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s fraught confirmation process and the allegations of misconduct that he faced, the de-platforming of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on social media and other platforms, and the debate in Congress over gun control laws in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

 

aily Stormer Book Club, an alt right group, was responsible for a number of anti-Semitic flier distributions across the U.S.

Daily Stormer Book Clubs are small crews of young white men who follow and support Andrew Anglin and his neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer. Daily Stormer Book Club members consider themselves the “on the ground” arm of the Daily Stormer website and have attended events and demonstrations organized by other white supremacist groups.


The Loyal White Knights’ 2018 anti-Semitic fliers blamed Jews for orchestrating an “open border policy” and accused Jews of controlling the government, the media and the criminal justice system.  Loyal White Knights (LWK) is one of the country’s largest and most active Klan groups and is best known for distributing racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic and Islamophobic propaganda.

You can read more about white supremacist fliering in the U.S. here.

Patrick Little / Road to Power Robocalls and “Name the Jew Tour”

Of the 249 anti-Semitic incidents connected to extremists or extremism, 103 were perpetrated by, or on behalf of the candidacy of Patrick Little. Little is an unabashed white supremacist who attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2018, he ran as a Republican in California for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat (the state GOP publicly denounced him). Though he experienced a crushing defeat, he still garnered 1.3% of the vote, or 89,867 votes. Little’s anti-Semitic campaigns included two components: a series of anti-Semitic robocalls to promote his candidacy, and a “Name the Jew” tour that he launched after his election loss.

This Audit includes 80 complaints of robocalls in support of Little. The calls were concentrated in California ahead of the primary elections on June 5th, and targeted private home and cell phone numbers, synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools. The calls were orchestrated by Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic broadcasting outlet based in Sandpoint, Idaho. The man behind Road to Power is Scott D. Rhodes, a white supremacist who achieved local notoriety in late 2017 when police linked him to the distribution of white supremacist propaganda at a local high school, harassment of a local Sandpoint resident and making threatening, anti-Semitic calls that included recordings of Hitler.

The calls were approximately 90 seconds in length and included the voices of a man and woman accusing Senator Feinstein of being an Israeli citizen, which is a nod to a common anti-Semitic trope about American Jews’ alleged disloyalty to the U.S. The calls also promised that Little would “rid America of the traitorous Jews.”

Transcript of the call:

Man: Dianne Feinstein isn’t just a Jew, she’s an Israeli citizen.

Woman: Wait, that can’t be legal, right? I mean, she’s a citizen of Israel but gets to vote as a U.S. Senator from California to send billions of our dollars every year to her real country, Israel?

Man: It used to be illegal, but the Jews of our country got rid of that law.

Woman: Not only that, but she gets to vote America into Middle East wars based on lies so that Israel can eventually expand its borders like it always planned.

Man: To rid America of the traitorous Jews like Dianne Feinstein, vote for Patrick Little for U.S. Senator from California by mail by May 29th or at polls on June 5th. He’s a patriot, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and he’s vowed to end Jewish control over America, starting with Dianne Feinstein, an Israeli citizen pretending to be an American while she takes our money for her real country, Israel, and kills our children for it, too. Vote for Patrick Little for U.S. Senator from California by mail by May 29th or at polls on June 5th. He’s going to get rid of all the nation-wrecking Jews from our country starting with Israeli citizen, Dianne Feinstein.

“Goodbye Jews, goodbye Jews, goodbye Jews” (audio clip from Schindler’s List).

19 of the incidents took place during Patrick Little’s “Name the Jew” tour. Following Little’s loss in the California primaries (for which he blamed “Jewish supremacists and Zionists” and “broken machines”), he took to the road for his anti-Semitic tour of U.S. cities and college campuses, with stops in cities including Carlsbad, California; Olympia, Washington; Minot, North Dakota and Miami, Florida. In each location, Little walked the streets with a sign reading “Jews Rape Kids,” and showcased his obsessive focus on Jews and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. At the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Little walked through the museum’s bookstore playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies,” presumably to underscore his longstanding Holocaust denial.

While Little's candidacy is linked to 80 reported robocalls, that is likely an under-reporting of the total number.  An analogous case occurred in 2016 when a white supremacist hacker, Andrew Auernheimer, also known as “Weev,” claimed to have hacked 50,000 networked printers throughout the year to print an anti-Semitic flier.  Auernheimer primarily targeted universities and colleges around the U.S. with fliers blaming Jews for destroying the country “through mass immigration and degeneracy” and asked people to “join us in the struggle for global white supremacy.”

Similarly, in 2017, a teenager with dual Israeli-American citizenship was caught making bomb threats to Jewish institutions and was charged with federal hate crimes in the U.S. He was also sentenced by an Israeli judge to ten years in prison. In all three cases, a single individual was able to harass large numbers of Jewish people.

The other incident in 2018 where extremist ideology was at play was the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue, where Robert Bowers, a hardcore white supremacist, is accused of killing 11 worshippers and injuring two more on a Sabbath morning.

The Audit only includes the fraction of hate group activity which was overtly anti-Semitic. For example, although the Audit includes 139 instances of flierings by hate groups, there were many more fliers disseminated by these groups that did not include anti-Semitic imagery or rhetoric.

3) K-12 Incidents

In 2018 there were 344 anti-Semitic incidents reported in non-Jewish K-12 schools, a decrease of 25% from 457 incidents reported in 2017, but still 46% higher than the 235 reported in 2016.  Of the 344 incidents in 2018, 173 were incidents of harassment, 169 were incidents of vandalism and two were incidents of physical assault.

The 173 incidents of harassment in K-12 schools represent a 25% decline from the 231 incidents of harassment in 2017, but are still 18% higher than the 146 incidents reported in 2016. Harassment incidents in 2018 include one-offs like an elementary school student announcing to their class that they will “become the next Hitler and kill all the Jews,” as well as instances of ongoing anti-Semitic bullying, including a group of Jewish students being repeatedly referred to as “f---ing Jews” by their classmates. Although the vast majority of victims were students, teachers and administrators were also sometimes targeted. In one such case, a Jewish teacher in California discovered that someone had left a cutout of a swastika affixed to their door.

The 169 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in K-12 schools in 2018 represent a 24% decline from the 221 incidents reported in 2017 but are still 99% higher than the 85 incidents reported in 2016. The vast majority of anti-Semitic vandalism incidents in 2018 involved some sort of swastika graffiti or vandalism accompanied by a message like “Heil Hitler.” Other vandalism incidents included messages such as “F--- Jews,” “God hates Jews” or “burn the Jews” written on a range of school property, including lockers, bathroom walls and playground equipment.

 


Although the decline in reported incidents in non-Jewish schools is a welcome development, the number of Jewish students experiencing anti-Semitic incidents in non-Jewish schools is still unacceptably high. Given the insidious nature of schoolyard bullying and the fact that many children may not feel empowered to report their experiences, it is likely that the actual number of anti-Semitic incidents taking place in schools was significantly higher than the number reported in the Audit.

4) Campus Incidents

In 2018, there were 201 reported anti-Semitic incidents on American university and college campuses, a decrease of 1% from 204 reported incidents in 2017, but still 86% higher than the 108 reported incidents on college and university campuses in 2016.

 

Of the 201 campus incidents, 106 were incidents of harassment, 91 were incidents of vandalism and four were incidents of assault. While reported incidents of harassment and vandalism on campuses decreased from 2017 to 2018, incidents of assault — where Jewish university students were targeted and physically assaulted — increased from zero reported incidents in 2017 to four reported incidents in 2018.

Approximately 31% of the reported harassment incidents related to the distribution of anti-Semitic white supremacist fliers by either individuals or groups. Also included: a number of university departments’ networked printers were hacked to print fliers promoting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory linking the Chabad movement (a Hasidic sect of Judaism) and the Holocaust.

 

In four separate incidents on three different campuses, memorials constructed to honor the lives of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting were defaced. This happened twice over the course of a week at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as at Duke University, Eastern Michigan University and Pomona College in California.

5) Bomb Threats

In 2018, six bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions or accompanied by anti-Semitic rhetoric were reported. This is a marked decline from the 169 bomb threats reported in 2017, 163 of which occurred in the first quarter when hundreds of Jewish community institutions, schools and ADL offices were targeted. The vast majority of those bomb threats were made by a teenager with dual Israeli-American citizenship, who was charged with federal hate crimes in the United States and was sentenced by an Israeli judge to ten years in prison. The 2017 bomb threats, which all targeted Jewish institutions, were included in ADL’s 2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents because the threats sowed fear and anxiety within the American Jewish community, which felt under attack.

Bomb threats in 2018 drastically decreased, and unlike in 2017, they did not all target Jewish institutions. In September, a homemade explosive device was discovered attached to a headstone in a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey. In December, an individual brought a fake bomb to the University of California, Berkeley police headquarters. The fake bomb was covered with anti-Semitic statements, including “All Jews f--- off and evaporate”.

6) Jewish Institutions

Jewish institutions, including Jewish schools, community centers and synagogues, were the target of 265 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018. This is a decrease of 23 percent from the 342 reported incidents in 2017, but is still 56 percent higher than the 170 similar incidents reported in 2016.

Of the 265 incidents targeting Jewish institutions, 227 were cases of harassment and 36 were acts of vandalism. There were two physical assaults, one of which was the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which resulted in 11 deaths and two injures (see above).

The 36 acts of vandalism against Jewish institutions are a decrease of more than 50% from the 2017 total of 73. Most acts of vandalism took the form of graffiti, usually with swastika imagery or other anti-Semitic messages.

Nearly half, or 109, of the incidents of harassment against Jewish institutions in 2018 were the work of known white supremacists or extremists, including 77 anti-Semitic robocalls sent during a campaign to support the candidacy of Patrick Little and 19 fliering incidents perpetrated by the Daily Stormer Book Clubs.

7) Cemetery Desecration

Headstones in a Jewish cemetery in El Paso, Texas vandalized with swastika graffiti in June, 2018.

Jewish graves and/or cemeteries were desecrated eight times in 2018. The desecration of Jewish headstones is a long-standing form of anti-Semitism that has been employed for centuries by anti-Semites looking to scare, victimize and offend Jews. It is a cowardly act and is especially disturbing seeing as those buried have no means of defending themselves.

Desecration incidents in 2018:

  • Headstones in a Jewish cemetery were vandalized with swastika graffiti (June 2018, El Paso, TX). 
  • A swastika was painted on a pillar along a fence at a Jewish cemetery (July 2018, Houston, TX).
  • Headstones at a Jewish cemetery were vandalized (July 2018, Shreveport, LA). 
  • Four headstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery (August 2018, Freehold, NJ). 
  • Seven headstones at a Jewish cemetery were vandalized (August 2018, Baton Rouge, LA). 
  • A homemade explosive device was discovered attached to a headstone in the B’nai Abraham Cemetery (September 2018, Newark, NJ).  
  • Headstones at the Hebrew Rest Cemetery were desecrated (October 2018, Orange, TX). 
  • 17 gravestones were vandalized and damaged at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery (November 2018, Rochester, NY).
     

This compares to seven cemetery desecrations in 2017 and continues the upward trend: in 2016 there were zero cemetery desecrations.

8) Israel/Zionism

140 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 referenced Israel or Zionism. 95 of those incidents related to white supremacist activity, including 80 robocalls in California from Scott Rhodes in support of Patrick Little, where individuals and synagogues received voicemails alleging that, “nation-wrecking Jews,” including Senator Dianne Feinstein, are drawing the U.S. into “Middle East wars based on lies so that Israel can eventually expand its borders like it always planned.” Those robocalls were all placed in the month of May; during most other months, there were averages of five incidents referencing Israel.

 

Examples of Israel-related language in the context of anti-Semitic incidents include:

  • Jewish people being told that they should “go back to Israel” (multiple). 
  • Signs and messages expressing the belief that Jews control the United States in order to have its military fight wars on Israel’s behalf (multiple).
  • An unsolicited email to a Jewish institution reading “It’s open season on all you Zionist pigs. Better watch your back!” (May 2018, Philadelphia, PA).
  • Jews being harangued by individuals who had been upset about Israel’s alleged crimes (multiple). 
  • A sign announcing a bar mitzvah vandalized with the phrase “Free Palestine, Terrorists Go Home” (August 2018, Madison, WI).
  • A Sukkah erected in observance of the Sukkot holiday vandalized on Manhattan's Upper East Side in September, 2018.
    The words “Free Gaza” spray-painted on the walls of a sukkah (Jewish religious structure) (September 2018, New York, NY). 
  • A sign in front of a synagogue vandalized with a message reading “Justice for Palestinian people NOW!! Israel is a fascist apartheid state!” (September 2018, Olney, MD).

Israeli policies — like any other government’s policies — can certainly be robustly and publicly debated. We include anti-Israel incidents in the Audit if they invoke or are accompanied by classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes (such as Jews/Zionists control the government), if they target Jewish religious or cultural institutions or if they are expressed by groups or individuals who consistently express anti-Semitic ideas.

Methodology

The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is composed of criminal and non-criminal incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault against individuals and groups as reported to ADL by victims, law enforcement and the media. It is not a public opinion poll or an effort to catalog every expression of anti-Semitism.

Incidents are defined as vandalism of property, or as harassment or assault on individuals or groups, where either 1) circumstances indicate anti-Jewish animus on the part of the perpetrator, or 2) the victim(s) could plausibly conclude that they were being victimized due to their Jewish identity. Any vandalism against Jewish religious institutions or cemeteries is also included.

Although some incidents are hate crimes, many incidents included in the Audit include non-criminal acts that rise to the level of an anti-Semitic incident as we define it above. ADL carefully reviews the credibility of all incidents, including obtaining independent verification when possible.

The Audit excludes the following types of incidents:

  • Anti-Semitic activities or statements which take place privately (e.g. at a private extremist meeting) or in a manner that requires potential victims to “opt-in” in order to access them (e.g. by going to particular websites where unmoderated discussion occurs, looking at specific individuals’ social media pages, etc.)
  • Instances of discrimination (e.g. a Jewish worker not receiving an accommodation for Rosh Hashanah), unless the discrimination is accompanied by verbal harassment as described above.
  • General expressions of white supremacist or other hateful ideologies, unless those expressions include overt anti-Semitic elements.

The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents includes cases where individuals or groups were harassed online by being sent anti-Semitic content in direct messages, on listservs or in social media settings where they would have reasonable expectation to not be subjected to anti-Semitism. The Audit does not attempt to assess the total amount of anti-Semitism online. ADL has pioneered other efforts to assess anti-Semitism online, including in reports such as Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on Twitter  and Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience.

ADL is careful to not conflate general criticism of Israel or anti-Israel activism with anti- Semitism. However, Israel-related harassment of groups or individuals may be included when the harassment incorporates established anti-Jewish references, accusations and/or conspiracy theories. We have also included cases of picketing of Jewish religious or cultural institutions for their purported support for Israel.

Major State Findings

The graphics that follow represent the states with the highest numbers of incidents.

 
 
 
 
 
 


A full chart of all 50 states and Washington D.C. can be found in the table below.
 

How is ADL Responding?

ADL has a comprehensive approach to addressing anti-Semitic incidents and behavior, including educating youth to prevent these activities and working with law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrators. ADL also works to enact laws to improve federal, state and local prevention tactics and response to anti-Semitic hate crimes and all forms of hate violence. ADL partners with law enforcement to raise awareness of extremist threats and trains law enforcement professionals to recognize and disrupt potential threats. ADL likewise provides education and training every day to students, reaching young people at a time when they are most vulnerable to bullying and social pressures. ADL’s No Place for Hate and Words to Action programs teach understanding and promote inclusivity in schools and on campuses, respectively. 

ADL has been a longstanding partner in the effort to ensure the safety of Jewish community organizations and recently announced that former Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Jeh Johnson will co-chair a new Community Safety and Security Task Force convened by ADL and the Secure Community Network (SCN), the homeland security and safety initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations. The task force will work to enhance the safety, security and resiliency of religious communities.

"Since 1979 the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents produced by the Anti-Defamation League has been an incredibly valuable resource for researchers and policymakers...The audit identifies trends and emerging issues in hate crimes and analyzes these trends in ways that allow policymakers to address the issues in their jurisdiction. The increased number of anti-Semitic incidents tied to extremist groups is deeply troubling and should be addressed immediately by police and prosecutors.” - Jack McDevitt, Director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University

 

Policy Recommendations

1) Speak out against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

The 2018 Audit includes the deadliest anti-Semitic incident in American history – the murder of 11 Shabbat worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by an individual allegedly inspired by white supremacist and anti-immigrant ideology.

  • Public officials and civic leaders — from mayors to the President — and law enforcement authorities should use their bully pulpits to speak out against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate and extremism. These officials must support efforts to provide law enforcement officials with the tools and training they need to prevent and effectively respond to hate crimes, while providing comfort and assistance to individual victims and community members. Simply put, it cannot be said often enough: America is no place for hate.

2) Hold congressional hearings on the increase in hate crimes and the rise of extremist groups.

The 2018 Audit documents 249 anti-Semitic incidents that involved extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology — the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremists or extremist groups since ADL began collecting data for the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in 1979. 

  • Recognizing that far-right extremism is a major and growing threat in this era, Congress should hold hearings on the increase in hate crimes, the rise of extremist groups and proliferation of their propaganda. While the House Judiciary Committee recently held hearings on the rise of white nationalism – at which ADL provided testimony – the hearing itself showed how much more work must be done by Congress on these issues and how many distractions have kept us from moving forward with adequate legislation. Further hearings will raise awareness and identify best practices and effective responses to hate.  
  • Congress should support legislation that calls upon the federal government to improve coordinated response, collect data on domestic terrorism and ensure training for law enforcement on best practices to combat domestic terrorism. Any legislation in this arena must focus on specific criminal acts and not cross the line to punishing First Amendment-protected expression.

3) Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies should improve their procedures for responding to and reporting hate crimes.

Data drives policy. We cannot address a problem if we are not effectively tracking and measuring it.

  • Every state should enact comprehensive, inclusive hate crime laws. Effective responses to anti-Semitic incidents and hate violence by public officials and law enforcement authorities can play an essential role in deterring and preventing these crimes.
  • The federal government and state and local officials should provide the necessary training to encourage all law enforcement agencies to more comprehensively collect and report hate crimes data to the FBI and state authorities. 
  • We must encourage victims and bystanders to report all anti-Semitic incidents and vandalism to ADL and to local police.  If we expect law enforcement officials and community members to take these incidents seriously, we must take them seriously. 

4) Promote anti-bias, bullying prevention and civics education programs in elementary and secondary schools.

Laws addressing hate violence are important, but they have limits.  We must recognize that it is not possible to legislate or regulate racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry out of existence.

  • Congress, the Department of Education, state legislatures and mayors should increase funding to promote an inclusive school climate, and for anti-bias education and hate crime prevention. Schools should be directed to implement properly crafted anti-bullying, cyberbullying and harassment education and training initiatives.
  • Every elementary and secondary school should promote activities that celebrate our nation’s diversity and inclusivity — and regularly integrate anti-bias and anti-hate content in their curricula and extra-curricular activities. 

5) Enact the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act

Anti-Semitism is disturbingly pervasive and is moving into the mainstream. In recent years, hostility towards Jewish students and Israel, and anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses have attracted considerable national attention.

  • Congress should pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which is designed to help the Department of Education and Department of Justice effectively determine whether an investigation of an incident of anti-Semitism is warranted under their statutory anti-discrimination enforcement authority. 
  • While most incidents of anti-Semitism on campus are unrelated to anti-Israel activity, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice should have the authority to investigate instances in which anti-Israel activity — including anti-Semitic stereotypes and anti-Israel or anti-Zionism expressions coded as political discourse — cross the line to targeted, intentional, unlawful, discriminatory intimidation and harassment of Jewish students. 

6) Strengthen laws against perpetrators of online hate.

Though this report merely scratches the surface of anti-Semitism online, the connection between online abuse and in-person violence cannot be ignored.

  • At the federal and state level, policymakers should work to fill the gaps in addressing the impact of technological advances. This includes addressing the offline consequences of online hate, pursuing genuine dialogue with the technology sector to better counter extremism online and working with technology companies to find solutions to emerging challenges.   
  • Consistent with the First Amendment, Congress and state legislators should craft laws that hold perpetrators of severe online hate and harassment more accountable for their conduct.

7) Improve social media and technology company openness and responsiveness.

  • Tech and social media companies should improve their own terms of service related to hate and extremism, enforce them more effectively and proactively remove extremist content.
  • Tech and social media companies must allow independent, interdisciplinary external audits of hate in order to help come up with and implement rigorous frameworks for tracking the proliferation, type, impact, effectiveness of responses to anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, and disclose data to the public that is now either not tracked or not made public.  

The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is a project of ADL’s Center on Extremism, whose work is supported in part by the following generous donors: Roman Abramovich, the David Berg Foundation, The Molly Blank Fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ford Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, Rowland & Sylvia Schaefer Family Foundation, Inc., Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, The Nancy K. Silverman Foundation, Louis Sobelman, and the Zegar Family Foundation, as well as numerous others.