2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, ADL found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 57 percent in 2017 – the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

ADL identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated throughout the United States in 2017. This is an increase of 57% over the 1,267 incidents reported in 2016. For the first time since at least 2010, an incident occurred in every US state. The states with the highest numbers of incidents were New York (380 incidents), California (268 incidents), New Jersey (208 incidents), Massachusetts (177), Florida (98), and Pennsylvania (96). These states combined made up more than half (62%)of the total number of incidents. The number of incidents tends to correlate with large Jewish populations.

2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents comparison chart

The 1,986 total incidents can be subdivided into three major categories: (1) of harassment (where a Jewish person or group of people feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of someone else); (2)vandalism (where property is damaged in a manner that indicates the presence of anti-Semitic animus or in a manner that victimizes Jews for their religious affiliation), and (3) assault (where people’s bodies are targeted with violence accompanied by expressions of anti-Semitic animus).

2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents: Total Incidents by State

The largest increase in 2017 was in the category of vandalism. With 952 incidents recorded, this is an 86% increase over the 510 incidents in 2016. The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts of vandalism is particularly concerning, because it indicates that the perpetrators feel emboldened enough to break the law.

2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents; Monthly Comparisons


Anti-Semitic Incidents over the Last Decade

In 2017, there were 1,015 instances of harassment, an increase of 41% over the 721 incidents reported in 2016. One hundred sixty-three of the harassment cases were part of the spree of bomb threats made against Jewish institutions in the first quarter of 2017. If those bomb threats were not included in the total number of harassment cases, the total would be 852, an increase of 18% over the 2016 figure.

Thankfully, the number of assaults with perceived anti-Semitic animus decreased to 19 in 2017; a decrease of 47% compared to the 36 assaults in 2016.

Anti-Semitic incidents took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions, schools, and colleges/universities. Although the largest number of incidents typically occur in public areas, in 2017 K-12 schools surpassed public areas as the locations with the most anti-Semitic incidents, at 457 incidents being reported in K-12 schools and 455 in public areas. For public areas, this amounted to an increase of 56% over the 294 incidents in that location type in 2016. For K-12 schools, this is a dramatic increase of 94% over the 235 incidents in 2016. Anti-Semitic incidents on college and university campuses also increased in 2017 to a total of 204, an 89% increase over the 108 incidents in 2016.

Jewish institutions, including Jewish schools, community centers, and museums as well as synagogues, were the targets of 342 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This is an increase of 101% over the 170 incidents recorded in 2016. However, this number includes 163 bomb threats made in the first quarter of the year; the vast majority of which were alleged to have been perpetrated by a troubled Jewish teenager located in Israel. Excluding those bomb threats, the total number of incidents targeting Jewish institutions is 179, an increase of 5% over the 170 incidents targeting those places in 2016.

In response to the historic rise in anti-Semitic incidents, ADL is sharing the following policy recommendations with members of Congress and other government leaders:

  • Congress should pass legislation to expand federal protections against bomb threats to religious institutions. The House of Representatives approved this legislation, HR 1730, in December. The Senate must now act and send the measure to the President to sign.
  • Public officials and law enforcement authorities must use their bully pulpit to speak out against anti-Semitic incidents – and all acts of hate. These officials must support efforts to punish this conduct to the fullest extent of the law, while providing comfort and assistance to individual victims and community members.
  • Victims and bystanders should report all anti-Semitic incidents and vandalism to the Anti-Defamation League and to local police. If we expect law enforcement officials and community members to take these incidents seriously, we must take them seriously – and report them, both to ADL and to the police.
  • College and university administrators, faculty, and staff must receive the necessary training to effectively respond to anti-Semitic incidents, hate crimes, hate speech, and extremism on campus. Campus officials have a moral obligation to speak out against hate. Colleges and universities must build an institution for learning that works toward inclusion and equity while also ensuring open expression and a marketplace for ideas.

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 on the Internet.

Incidents are defined as vandalism of homes/businesses/public areas, or harassment or assault on individuals or groups, where either 1) circumstances indicate anti-Jewish animus on the part of the perpetrator or 2) the incidents result in Jews perceiving themselves as 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 above.

All Incidents are assessed by ADL staff for credibility. Wherever possible, ADL staff obtain independent verification of incidents. Where verification is unavailable, incidents may still be included if ADL staff consider the reports to be credible using their best professional judgment.

The Audit excludes the following types of incidents:

  • Anti-Semitic activities or statements which take place privately (e.g. 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

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 traditional anti-Jewish references, accusations and conspiracy theories. Also included are cases of picketing of Jewish religious or cultural institutions for purported support for Israel.

Below you will find links to a selected list of anti-Semitic incidents documented in 2017, as well as a state-by-state breakdown. The graphics that follow represent the states with the highest number of incidents.


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents PA Total Comparison


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents  NY Comparison Chart


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents NJ Comparison Chart


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents MA Comparison Chart


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents FL Comparison Chart


2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents CA Comparison Chart