Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, the Anti-Defamation League said in its annual assessment released on Tuesday.
There were 2,717 incidents last year, representing an increase of 34% over 2020 and the highest on record since the New York-based Jewish civil rights group started tracking such cases in 1979. The ADL divides antisemitic incidents into harassment, assault and vandalism.
The ADL said it received a sharp increase in reports of antisemitic incidents during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May of 2021.
As anti-Israel protesters around the world took to the streets, including in dozens of U.S. cities, 387 incidents were reported to the ADL in May 2021, up 148 from a year earlier. The incidents included the violent beatings of Jews in the streets of New York City and Los Angeles, home to the two largest Jewish communities in the United States.
“While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, said in a statement.
“Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away,” Greenblatt said.
The conflict killed 261 Palestinians and 10 Israelis, while 2,200 Palestinians and 710 Israelis were injured, according to a recent U.N. report.
The violence between Israelis and Palestinians was one of several drivers of antisemitic activity last year, with the ADL attributing the bulk to “actions by domestic extremists.”
While “no single ideology or belief system” was responsible for the surge in antisemitism, “we do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years, and that’s a deeply troubling indicator of larger societal fissures,” Greenblatt said.
Harassment was the largest category of antisemitic incidents last year, with a total of 1,776 cases reported. The ADL defines harassment as cases where one or more Jews are harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories.
Meanwhile, anti-Jewish hate crimes in 20 major U.S. cities surged to 373 incidents last year, an increase of nearly 59% from 2020, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The bulk of the incidents took place in New York City, where 207 anti-Jewish hate crimes were registered last year, up from 121 in 2020, the report said.