ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS IN NEW JERSEY AT HIGHEST LEVELS EVER RECORDED, ACCORDING TO NEW ADL REPORT

ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS IN NEW JERSEY AT HIGHEST LEVELS EVER RECORDED, ACCORDING TO NEW ADL REPORT

Philadelphia, PA, May 12, 2020 … According to new data released by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today, antisemitic incidents rose 73% in New Jersey in 2019, reaching 345 total incidents – the most ever recorded in the state and the second-highest number recorded in any state across the country last year.

2019 Audit - Graphic - Historic Data - NJ.png

According to ADL’s data, New Jersey experienced dramatic increases in antisemitic incidents across all categories.  Vandalism increased 72%, from 104 incidents in 2018 to 179 incidents in 2019; harassment increased 71%, from 94 incidents in 2018 to 161 incidents in 2019; and assaults increased 150%, from 2 assaults in 2018 to 5 assaults in 2019, including last December’s deadly shooting attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.

2019 Audit - Graphic - Year-over-Year Change - NJ.png

Antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools increased sharply in 2019, from 63 incidents in 2018 to 97 incidents in 2019.  The 54% increase in New Jersey schools significantly outpaced a 19% increase in school-based incidents nationwide. This was the second year in a row that antisemitic incidents increased in New Jersey’s K-12 schools. Incidents at New Jersey colleges and universities also jumped sharply in 2019, nearly doubling from 8 incidents recorded in 2018 to 14 incidents recorded in 2019.

Nationally, ADL documented 2,107 antisemitic incidents in 2019, a 12% increase relative to 2018 and the highest year on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.  This data includes 61 violent assaults across the country, a 56% increase compared to 2018.  Across the United States, 270 antisemitic incidents were attributable to activities by known extremist groups or by individuals inspired by extremist ideologies.  This is the highest level of antisemitic incidents with known connections to extremism in nearly two decades.

“We are alarmed by the dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents in New Jersey,” said Alexander Rosemberg, Deputy Regional Director of ADL’s New York/New Jersey Region, which serves northern and central New Jersey.  “The deadly shooting attack in Jersey City, followed by the subsequent stabbing attack at a rabbi’s home just across the border in Monsey, New York, demonstrate that incidents are not only increasing, but they are becoming more violent as well.  At the same time, the rise in incidents in New Jersey’s K-12 schools and college and university campuses tells us that there is much work to be done to educate young people about hate, bias and stereotypes more broadly. We are grateful that Attorney General Grewal has prioritized this issue by creating the Youth Bias Task Force and issuing guidance to law enforcement on investigating and reporting bias incidents.”

“The data is clear: antisemitism is on the rise, and it is growing more dangerous,” said Shira J. Goodman, Regional Director of ADL’s Philadelphia Regional Office which serves southern New Jersey. “Jews in New Jersey are dealing with levels of bigotry unmatched in the past forty years. As we have seen in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City, Monsey and elsewhere, antisemitism in America can be deadly, and we cannot afford to leave it unchecked. This is not only a Jewish problem; this is an American problem, and we need all Americans to join the fight against antisemitism.”

INCIDENTS

Since 1979, ADL has tracked antisemitism through its annual  Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.

In 2019, ADL’s Audit revealed the following in New Jersey:

  • 179 incidents of vandalism;
  • 161 incidents of harassment;
  • 5 incidents of assault, including the deadly shooting attack targeting a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.

Of the 345 incidents recorded in New Jersey in 2019, 129 took place in public areas, including parks, public transit, sidewalks and playgrounds, indicating that perpetrators feel emboldened to commit antisemitic acts in the open.  Vandalism against private property continues to be a serious concern, as it leaves victims particularly vulnerable in places where they expect to feel safe and secure.

Specific incidents of online antisemitic harassment in New Jersey rose to 10 in 2019, a 42% increase compared to 7 in 2018.  Of particular concern to ADL was antisemitic content published by a Facebook group and internet site called “Rise Up Ocean County,” which included several posts, comments and videos promoting incitement to violence against Orthodox Jews, such as, “We need to get rid of them like Hitler did,” and, “When they resist, bulldoze them.” After receiving numerous complaints from ADL, the New Jersey Governor and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Facebook ultimately removed Rise Up Ocean County from its platform in February 2020.

Notably, ADL documented a 157% increase in antisemitic incidents in Ocean County in 2019, making it the county with the highest number of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey.  This surge in incidents, which coincides with the apparent establishment of Rise Up Ocean County in October 2018, underscores the continued need to combat hate online.

GEOGRAPHIC DATA

In 2019, 19 of 21 counties in New Jersey reported acts of antisemitism. Fourteen of these counties saw an increase in incidents in 2019.

2019 Audit - Graphic - County Map - New Jersey.png

Counties with Largest Recorded Incidents of Antisemitism in 2019: 

  • Ocean: 54 (157% increase from 21 incidents in 2018)
  • Bergen: 52 (44% increase from 36 incidents in 2018)
  • Monmouth: 38 (110% increase from 18 incidents in 2018)
  • Morris: 29 (164% increase from 11 incidents in 2018)
  • Union: 27 (42% increase from 19 incidents in 2018)
  • Middlesex: 23 (0% increase from 23 incidents in 2018)
  • Essex: 21 (62% increase from 13 incidents in 2018)
  • Camden: 21 (91% increase from 11 incidents in 2018)

In Somerset County, ADL documented a substantial increase in antisemitic incidents, recording 16 incidents in 2019 compared to 1 in 2018.

SELECTED INCIDENTS

Below is a small sampling of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey recorded by ADL in 2019. The full list of incidents can be accessed on ADL’s interactive H.E.A.T. (Hate, Extremism, Antisemitism, Terrorism) Map, found at www.adl.org/heat-map.

  • January
    • Swastika vandalism was discovered inside a residence hall at Rutgers University. (Middlesex County)
    • A classroom was vandalized with swastika graffiti. (Union County)
  • February
    • An individual was called a “fucking Jew” and had an iced coffee thrown at them. (Ocean County)
    • Swastika graffiti and the message “Hitler did nothing wrong” were found written on playground equipment. (Burlington County)
  • March
    • Two university deans received an antisemitic fax that falsely alleged that the Chabad branch of Judaism cooperated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. (Atlantic County)
  • April:
    • A man vandalized a Chabad’s 2-meter tall menorah. (Atlantic County)
    • A playground was vandalized with swastika graffiti. (Somerset County)
  • May:
    • A student at a middle school drew swastikas on desks. (Camden County)
    • Cars and properties were defaced with antisemitic stickers. (Ocean County)
  • June:
    • Jewish children were assaulted by two boys who yelled “Hitler” while throwing pebbles at them. (Ocean County)
    • An antisemitic drawing and message were found inside a portable bathroom at a construction site. (Cape May County)
  • July:
    • The New Jersey European Heritage Association, an alt right group, distributed propaganda that promoted the antisemitic USS Liberty conspiracy theory. (Burlington County)
    • Antisemitic fliers were found in a copying machine at Monmouth University. (Monmouth County)
  • August:
    • An individual directed Nazi salutes and slogans at another individual in a harassing manner. (Camden County)
    • Over 150 tires on vehicles were slashed in a neighborhood with primarily Jewish residents.  (Ocean County)
  • September:
    • A teenager yelled antisemitic slurs and attempted to drive over two individuals standing outside a residence. (Ocean County)
    • A Jewish individual received a hateful email which read, “What a pissy, low, dirty, fucking Jew.” (Camden County)
  • October:
    • Swastika vandalism was discovered on a bridge. (Burlington County)
    • During a multicultural fair at a school, an individual approached the Jewish heritage table wearing a Nazi helmet and did the Nazi salute. (Warren County)
  • November:
    • The owner of a kosher supermarket received a threatening antisemitic postcard that read, “You are going down Jew [sic] boy. Too bad others will be hurt along with you.” (Camden County)
    • Jewish men were refused service at a bar and told to take their “costumes” off. At least one of the Jewish men was dressed in traditional Jewish clothing. (Bergen County)
  • December:
    • A man entered a bagel shop and shouted antisemitic slurs; subsequently a physical altercation took place and a victim was scratched in the face. (Bergen County)
    • For the third time in two months, swastika vandalism was discovered in a public high school. (Camden County)

JERSEY CITY KOSHER SUPERMARKET SHOOTING

On December 10, 2019 David N. Anderson and Francine Graham drove to the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, NJ, where Graham allegedly fired shots into the establishment, killing three civilians inside the store and injuring another. The couple left behind a stolen U-Haul van that contained an arsenal of weapons and a handwritten note that implied a theological justification or imperative for the attack.

Online identities linked to Anderson show that he espoused Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) ideology. BHIs disagree with the traditional view that contemporary Jews are descendants of the 12 biblical tribes of Israel, and argue instead that various non-European indigenous peoples, including Black Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, are the true heirs. Some members of the movement identify or introduce themselves as belonging to specific tribes, which are named after the sons of the biblical patriarch, Jacob. This includes the Tribe of Judah, which is made up of Black Americans, many of whom believe this tribe is especially blessed because of Black Americans’ history of persecution.

According to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the attack is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism that was motivated by antisemitic and anti-law enforcement sentiments.

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

K-12 Incidents

New Jersey’s K-12 schools witnessed a sharp 54% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2019, for a total of 97 incidents. Of these, 24 were incidents of harassment and 73 were incidents of vandalism, including swastikas found on school properties.  This is the second year in a row that ADL saw an increase in antisemitic incidents in New Jersey’s K-12 school system.

  • 2017: 61
  • 2018: 63
  • 2019: 97

“The alarming rise of antisemitic incidents in K-12 schools for the second year in a row demonstrates the need for more understanding of antisemitism and structured anti-bias educational programming,” said Rosemberg and Goodman. “Every student in New Jersey deserves to go to school free from fear and hate, and we are proud to continue our work with schools across the state to combat antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.”

2019 Audit - Graphic - Incidents in K-12 Schools - NJ.png

University and Campus Incidents

In 2019, 14 antisemitic incidents were recorded on New Jersey college and university campuses, a 75% increase relative to 2018. Six of the reported incidents involved harassment and 8 were cases of vandalism.

WHITE SUPREMACY

White supremacist groups continued to maintain an active presence in New Jersey in 2019, primarily convening online or in private locations, and then using propaganda distributions to communicate their hateful messages in public spaces. In 2019, ADL documented 147 white supremacist propaganda incidents in New Jersey. Although only 35 of them were overtly antisemitic and were included in the Audit, the potential for all types of white supremacist activity to provoke fear and anxiety in Jewish communities should not be discounted. The most active white supremacist groups in New Jersey in 2019 were Identity Evropa (now using the name American Identity Movement), New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux KlanPatriot Front and the Daily Stormer Book Clubs.

UNDERREPORTING AND NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTING MECHANISM  

In 2019, substantial efforts were made by law enforcement and elected officials, including by the Office of the Attorney General in particular, to improve reporting of hate and bias incidents in the state.  ADL worked closely with Attorney General Grewal to incorporate law enforcement data on antisemitic incidents into the Audit, and strongly commends the Attorney General for these important efforts.

ADL attributes some of 2019’s increase in antisemitic incidents to the implementation of the Attorney General’s new, comprehensive “live reporting” system.  However, while better reporting may have been one factor in the increase, this alone is likely not sufficient to account for the enormous jump in incidents recorded last year.

Despite the tremendous progress in law enforcement data collection this year, underreporting continues to be a challenge in many communities.  Victims of bias crimes and antisemitic incidents are often reluctant to come forward, and law enforcement participation in FBI data collection efforts remains voluntary.  ADL will continue to work with elected officials, law enforcement leaders and community members across New Jersey to tackle these problems head-on in the years ahead.

ADL encourages all members of the public to report incidents of antisemitism to local law enforcement and directly to ADL here: Report an Antisemitic, Bias or Discriminatory Incident  

For more information on underreporting, visit ADL’s Hate Crime Map

HOW ADL IS RESPONDING

ADL takes a comprehensive approach to addressing antisemitic incidents and behavior, including educating youth to prevent these incidents and working with law enforcement to apprehend perpetrators.  ADL works to enact laws to improve federal, state and local prevention tactics and response to antisemitic hate crimes and all forms of hate violence.

ADL partners with law enforcement to raise awareness of extremist trends and trains law enforcement professionals to recognize and disrupt potential threats.  ADL provides education and training every day to students through its No Place for Hate® and Words to Action™ programs, reaching young people at a time when they are most vulnerable to bullying and social pressures. ADL also supports victims of hate and works with universities, workplaces and communities to respond to antisemitic harassment and other bias incidents.

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. 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 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents is a project of ADL’s Center on Extremism, whose work is supported in part by the following generous donors as well as numerous others: Roman Abramovich, the David Berg Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, New England Revolution Foundation, Rowland & Sylvia Schaefer Family Foundation, Inc., Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, The Nancy K. Silverman Foundation, Louis Sobelman, Zegar Family Foundation and The ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Antisemitism.

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ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. More at www.adl.org.

ADL’s NY/NJ Regional Office serves northern and central New Jersey. ADL’s Philadelphia Regional Office serves southern New Jersey.

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