Anti-Semitic incidents in NYC jump 90% since 2016, ADL report says

Incidents of anti-Semitism across New York City jumped more than 90 percent in 2017, according to a report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL said there were 234 incidents — which include everything from vandalism to assaults — in 2017, compared to 122 in 2016.

Evan Bernstein, New York regional director of the ADL, attributed the rise to a number of factors.

“People are more comfortable reporting and making calls to the ADL and the police. But I do think there is a change in our climate since the [presidential] election season,” he said. “People are talking on social media and elsewhere, being less tolerant of others. We certainly see it with our community partners and other minority groups.”

The group gathers its own data by tracking criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment, such as threats and slurs, and by talking to victims, as well as law enforcement and community leaders.

Bernstein said the group works closely with the NYPD, and praised the department for reinforcing a Hate Crimes Task Force.

Within the city limits, the largest number of incidents, 99, was reported in Manhattan, followed by 80 in Brooklyn and 39 in Queens. The ADL tracked nine in the Bronx and seven incidents on Staten Island.

Those incidents included a swastika painted on the front door of a synagogue, a Kosher bakery receiving anti-Semitic flyers, the assault of an Orthodox woman whose wig was pulled off and a sign at Kennedy Airport vandalized with the words “Any problems with Jews, please call. . .”

Bernstein noted the largest number of incidents were in Manhattan, unlike previous years when the majority were reported in Brooklyn and Queens, which have large populations of Orthodox Jews.

He said Manhattan residents were stunned last October when a swastika was spray-painted outside the Sutton Place Synagogue.

“Most Jews in Manhattan really thought this was behind us, but there have been a lot of incidents,” Bernstein said.

The ADL also discovered a 90 percent increase in reported incidents across the state, including 62 on Long Island, 18 in Westchester County, 12 in Rockland County and 54 in upstate New York.

There also was a rise in the number of incidents in K-12 schools, from 18 in 2016 to 36 in 2017.

“There are so many things flying around the internet that look like real websites with misinformation about Jews and minorities,” he said. “Young people are seeing these.”

Bernstein said the ADL is encouraging more reporting from the public, as well as more training for educators on how to spot and respond to anti-Semitic incidents. He also said it is critical that law enforcement and elected officials continue to speak out about anti-Semitism.

“We can’t allow for swastikas to become normalized in our society,” he said. “They are symbols of hate.”