American Jews were targets of more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the past four decades, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported Tuesday. The surge was marked by deadly attacks on a California synagogue, a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey and a rabbi’s New York home, the Associated Press reports. The Jewish civil rights group counted 2,107 incidents in 2019, finding 61 physical assault cases, 1,127 instances of harassment and 919 acts of vandalism. That’s the highest annual tally since the group began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979. It marked a 12 percent increase over the 1,879 incidents it counted in 2018. CEO Jonathan Greenblatt attributes last year’s record high to a “normalization of anti-Semitic tropes,” the “charged politics of the day” and social media. This year, he said, the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
“Anti-Semitism is a virus. It is like a disease, and it persists,” Greenblatt said. “It’s sometimes known as the oldest hatred. It never seems to go away. There truly is no single antidote or cure.” The ADL’s count of anti-Semitic assaults involved 95 victims. More than half of the assaults occurred in New York City, including 25 in Brooklyn. Eight Brooklyn assaults happened during a span of eight days in December, mostly in neighborhoods where many Orthodox Jews live. “Objects were thrown at victims, antisemitic slurs were shouted, and at least three victims were hit or punched in their heads or faces,” says the ADL. The report attributed 270 anti-Semitic incidents to extremist groups or individuals. The ADL counted 919 vandalism incidents in 2019, a 19 percent increase from 774 in 2018.