Anti-Semitic Incidents Spiked 57 Percent in 2017. Why?

Nearly a year ago, two different communities in the United States woke up to find that large, historically Jewish cemeteries had been heavily damaged, most likely by multiple people. And hundreds of other places, like synagogues and Jewish schools, reported threats of bombings and violence.

While these incidents represent just a small sample, it’s not only clear that anti-Semitism is on the rise in the U.S., but also that it’s officially coming back in force: In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents rose by 57 percent.

According to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, nearly 2,000 such incidents were reported last year. What’s truly startling is that this is the most rapid increase reported since the ADL began such tracking in 1979. It’s also the highest number of incidents in a single year since 1994.

Perhaps the most alarming spike was an 86 percent rise in vandalism.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld told the AP he worries that overt anti-Semitic actions carried out by neo-Nazis have come about “in a way I have not seen in my lifetime.”

Given that the emerging trend suggests 2018 will likely experience another increase in antisemitic activities, Americans should be asking themselves what can be done to fight this bigotry — and examining how we got here in the first place.

Though it’s true that anti-Semitism — and with it, white nationalism — has long persisted on the fringes of American politics, it has now become a nationally influential group.

It’s difficult, however, to discuss this phenomenon without acknowledging the elephant in the room: Donald Trump and his administration.

A year ago, I wrote a piece for Care2 in which I questioned whether the Trump White House was showing tendencies of anti-Semitism. Much of that argument was centered around the presence of Steve Bannon, a not-so-secret white nationalist. Since then, Bannon has fortunately gotten the boot. Even so, the damage has been done.

White nationalist groups — including the Ku Klux Klan — have openly expressed their support for Trump, both during and after his campaign. And that doesn’t merely happen by accident.

Perhaps the plainest example of Trump’s not-so-subtle pandering to these people came in the form of the his disappointing remarks following the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville last year. He claimed that there were “bad people” on both sides, while refusing to specifically condemn white nationalists.

The fact that the Trump administration views Islamist terrorism as a greater threat and priority than domestic terrorism — despite evidence to the contrary – further opens the door to de-stigmatizing white supremacy.

With this kind of White House response, should it really be any surprise that white nationalists and anti-Semites feel increasingly emboldened?

Photo Credit: Will Palmer/Flickr

67 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Lesa D
Lesa D7 months ago

thank you Llowell...

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Elaine W
Elaine W7 months ago

Ignorance Noted.

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

The real cause of anti-Semitism: Christians put Paul ahead of Jesus. Paul referred to the Law as "so much garbage." Jesus repeatedly upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17): he upheld the entire Torah. When a man asked what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, "You know the commandments," quoting not just the Ten Commandments, but Leviticus 19:13 as well: "Do not defraud." (Mark 10:17-22)

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus says "...do unto others" covers the Law and the prophets. But Jesus was merely repeating Rabbi Hillel's words: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is Judaism. All the rest is commentary." Hillel's words did not mean the Law was abolished: why assume this of Jesus?

If Jesus *really* abolished the Law and the prophets, Peter would not have resisted a command to kill and eat both "clean" and "unclean" animals (Acts 10), nor would there have been a debate whether the gentiles were to observe the Law (Acts 15). In Acts 21, Paul was told at the church in Jerusalem all its members were all "zealous for the Law," worried, due to rumors Paul was against the Law.

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

Jesus not only repeatedly upheld the Law and the prophets, he justified his healing on the Sabbath by referring to commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals! While teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for eighteen years. He justified his healing work on the Sabbath by referring to biblical passages calling for the humane treatment of animals as well as their rest on the Sabbath. "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham... be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" Jesus asked. (Luke 13:10-16)

On another occasion, Jesus again referred to Torah teaching on tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, or compassion for animals, to justify healing on the Sabbath: "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox which has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:1-5)

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

My own experience as a Hindu vegetarian, is that Christians resort to anti-Semitism when trying to sweep a serious moral issue (the ethical treatment of animals, our relationship with the animal world, like pacifists and/or pro-lifers, a serious moral issue which mankind has grappled with from Pythagoras to PETA) under the rug, by dismissing it as someone else's "religious belief" which they think doesn't apply to them... forgetting that in past decades, pro-lifers faced the same kind of religious discrimination.

In past decades, the stereotype of "religious vegetarians" was that they're all followers of the ancient eastern reincarnationist religions which predate Christianity (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism), believing in rebirth in lower species as a punishment for sinning, believing you might be reincarnated as a cow in your next life if you're not careful, Hinduism and her sacred cows, a belief in karma and reincarnation as the moral and philosophical basis for the kinship of all life, rather than, say, Darwinian evolution. Until the middle of the 19th century, Western vegetarians were referred to as "Pythagoreans."

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

The real cause of anti-Semitism: Christians put Paul ahead of Jesus. Paul referred to the Law as "so much garbage." Jesus repeatedly upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17): he upheld the entire Torah. When a man asked what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, "You know the commandments," quoting not just the Ten Commandments, but Leviticus 19:13 as well: "Do not defraud." (Mark 10:17-22)

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus says "...do unto others" covers the Law and the prophets. But Jesus was merely repeating Rabbi Hillel's words: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is Judaism. All the rest is commentary." Hillel's words did not mean the Law was abolished: why assume this of Jesus?

If Jesus *really* abolished the Law and the prophets, Peter would not have resisted a command to kill and eat both "clean" and "unclean" animals (Acts 10), nor would there have been a debate whether the gentiles were to observe the Law (Acts 15). In Acts 21, Paul was told at the church in Jerusalem all its members were all "zealous for the Law," worried, due to rumors Paul was against the Law.


Jesus not only repeatedly upheld the Law and the prophets, he justified his healing on the Sabbath by referring to commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals! While teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for eighteen year

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Angela J
Angela J7 months ago

Thanks

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Leanne K
Leanne K7 months ago

Sorry Vau, I gotta disagree. Pick someone to blame, and you got yourself a movement. And like any school yard bully knows its easier to pick on someone that has been picked on before. All so called reasons are merely words

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Leanne K
Leanne K7 months ago

Trump and the nra are neo nazis as far as im concerned

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