2022 U.S. Antisemitic Incidents Hit Highest Level Ever Recorded, ADL Audit Finds

Anti-Jewish incidents in CO, NM, WY reach second highest level in more than 10 years 

Denver, CO, March 23, 2023 … Antisemitic incidents reported in the three-state region of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in 2022 reached the second highest level in more than 10 years, according to new data released today by ADL (Anti-Defamation League). Nationwide, antisemitic incidents surged to historic levels in 2022, with a total of 3,697 incidents reported across the United States, an increase of 36 percent compared to 2021, which was also a record-setting year. 

In the Mountain States Region of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, the number of reported antisemitic incidents decreased by 19 percent, a diversion from the national trend. There were 81 incidents of anti-Jewish assault, harassment and vandalism reported in the three-state region in 2022 compared to 100 incidents in 2021, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. The overwhelming majority of incidents occurred in Colorado with 71 reports in 2022 compared to 92 in 2021. In New Mexico, there was a slight increase of eight reported antisemitic incidents in 2022 compared to six in 2021. In Wyoming, the number of reported incidents was unchanged with two reports each in 2022 and 2021. 

Colorado ranked 12th among states for the number of reported antisemitic incidents, according to the audit. While the number of reported incidents in Colorado in 2022 decreased by 23 percent, it was still the second highest level in more than a decade. 

ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin issued the following statement:  

It is unacceptable that hatred of Jews continues to manifest itself in real harm to individuals, families, synagogues, organizations, and communities. This report demonstrates the urgency of countering antisemitism whenever and wherever it appears. We need everyone to recognize antisemitism for the true threat it is not only to Jews, but to our entire society. The Jewish community cannot fight this hate alone. 

Among the reports the ADL Mountain States Region received in 2022:   

Colorado

  • A Jewish husband and wife were assaulted by two individuals who made antisemitic comments. 
  • A Jewish community center received multiple bomb threats that contained an antisemitic slur and death threats against Jews. 
  • Mezuzahs were ripped from the doors of neighboring Jewish households. 
  • The leader of the antisemitic Goyim Defense League shouted antisemitic statements at a bar at Denver International Airport. 
  • Antisemitic flyers were distributed in Grand Junction on Christmas morning. 

New Mexico

  • A mezuzah outside the front door of a Jewish family’s home was vandalized. 
  • Multiple advocacy groups received letters with antisemitic symbols and an unknown substance. 

 Wyoming 

  • Antisemitic propaganda was distributed to homes in Cheyenne.

The 2022 ADL Audit identified: 

  •  One case of assault in Colorado 
  •  50 cases of harassment in Colorado, four in New Mexico and two in Wyoming 
  •  20 cases of vandalism in Colorado and four in New Mexico 
  • Nearly one-third of incidents were extremist-related, including the distribution of antisemitic propaganda in at least 15 cites across Colorado and one in Wyoming 

Nationwide, the ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents found, on average, 10 incidents for each day in 2022 – the highest level of antisemitic activity since ADL started keeping records in 1979 – following an upward trendline of hate and vitriol directed against the American Jewish community over the last five years. This is the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded. 

According to the ADL Center on Extremism, which compiles the annual Audit, there were increases in each category: Incidents of harassment rose 29 percent compared to 2021; acts of vandalism surged 51 percent; and physical assaults jumped 26 percent. Significantly, the report found a doubling in activity by organized white supremacist groups, who were responsible for 852 antisemitic propaganda distribution incidents last year – an increase from the 422 propaganda incidents attributed to white supremacist groups in 2021. 

Major Findings 

In 2022, ADL counted antisemitic incidents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories: 

  • Assaults: 111 incidents were categorized as assault, defined as cases where Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were targeted with physical violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus. This was an increase of 26 percent compared to 2021. A total of 139 people were victims of assault, an increase of 6 percent. There was one fatality. Perpetrators in four of the antisemitic assaults made references to Israel or Zionism. Orthodox Jews, who typically are more easily identifiable than other members of the Jewish community, were disproportionately targeted – comprising 53 percent of assault incidents nationally.
  • Harassment: 2,298 incidents were categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. Acts of harassment increased 29 percent, up from 1,776 incidents in 2021. 
  • Vandalism: 1,288 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged along with evidence of antisemitic intent or had an antisemitic impact on Jews. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 51 percent from the 853 incidents reported in 2021. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in 792 of these incidents, up 37 percent from last year. 

The states with the highest number of incidents were New York (580), California (518), New Jersey (408), Florida (269) and Texas (211). Combined, these five states accounted for 54 percent of the total incidents. 

There were 589 incidents targeting Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, an increase of 12 percent from 525 in 2021. This includes the January hostage crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, which ended without casualties and the British hostage-taker, an Islamist extremist reportedly inspired by ISIS propaganda, dead. Bomb threats toward Jewish institutions were unusually high, with a total of 91 – the highest number of bomb threats recorded since 2017.  

Antisemitic activity reported on college and university campuses increased by 41 percent in 2022, with 219 incidents reported at more than 130 campuses across the country. In non-Jewish K-12 schools, 494 incidents were reported, an increase of 49 percent.  

“It’s deeply troubling that there was such a sharp increase in school- and college-based antisemitic acts,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “This is a reminder of the need for more targeted education efforts aimed at rooting out hate and teaching acceptance. Holocaust education is increasingly important, which is why we are advocating for the passage of state laws mandating Holocaust education so schools are equipped to teach that history and ensure its lessons endure.” 

Anti-Zionism 

Antisemitic incidents tied to opposition to Israel or Zionism remained at concerning levels with 241 incidents, accounting for 6.5 percent of the total in 2022. This is higher than the 178 incidents reported in 2020, but a decline from 345 reported in 2021, which was unusually high due to incidents linked to the Israel-Gaza war in May of that year.  

The largest number of incidents – 70 – were associated with hostile anti-Israel groups such as Witness for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, an increase of 19 percent from 2021. Sixty-nine of the incidents were cases of harassment. In one incident, an anti-Israel activist physically assaulted a Jewish person during a protest hosted by the group Within Our Lifetime (the attacker later pleaded guilty to hate crime charges.) 

Of the 241 anti-Zionist/anti-Israel-related incidents, 36 incidents took the form of white supremacist groups’ use of propaganda to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.  

“Regardless of where it comes from, anti-Zionism is hateful, especially when it is used to intimidate students on campus,” Greenblatt said. “It is disturbing to continue to see both anti-Zionists on the far left and white supremacists on the far right using similar memes and tropes to spread antisemitism and hate, underscoring the fact that extremists from all sides rely on similar ideas to spread their hate.” 

Mainstreaming of Antisemitism in Popular Culture 

Some incidents were directly linked to events in the news. For example, hip-hop artist Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) was directly referenced in 59 incidents, an example of how his highly publicized antisemitic statements last year resonated with or motivated perpetrators. Extremist Black Hebrew Israelite groups were responsible for eight incidents, most notably surrounding the controversy involving basketball player Kyrie Irving. 

“In a year when antisemitism found mainstream acceptance like never before, antisemites were emboldened to act on their animus,” said Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL Center on Extremism. “From the antisemitic ‘Great Replacement’ theory to Ye’s claims about Jewish power, these conspiracies fueled real-world incidents of hate.” 

Methodology 

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular 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 antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.         

The complete dataset for antisemitic incidents for 2016-2022 is available on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart antisemitic incidents and extremist activity.  

The Audit offers a snapshot of one of the ways American Jews encounter antisemitism, but a full understanding of antisemitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including public opinion polling, assessments of online antisemitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as the ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward JewsSurvey on Jewish Americans’ Experiences with AntisemitismADL Global 100Online Hate and Harassment: The American ExperienceMurder and Extremism and White Supremacist Propaganda.    

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all. ADL’s Mountain States Region covers Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. More at https://mountainstates.adl.org/. 

About Jeremy Shaver

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