Anti-Semitic Incidents on the Rise in Schools
May 12, 2017
In the first quarter of 2017, anti-Semitic incident reports surpassed the previous year with a 86 percent increase in the United States and 33 percent in San Diego County, according to an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League.
Last year, a total 1,266 incidents targeting Jews and Jewish institutions were recorded, and from January to April of this year, a total of 541 acts were recorded in the U.S.
San Diego ADL Assistant Regional Director Liran Braude said 2017 could possibly be the worst year on record in relation to anti-Semitic acts especially in San Diego.
“The incidents have increased four times as many as there were in the first quarter of last year,” Braude said. “That’s a 300 percent increase and that is obviously very concerning.”
The ADL keeps track of acts of vandalism, assault, and bullying, among other incidents, through law enforcement reports, news coverage, or information provided by individuals. The regional office in San Diego works with law enforcement and educational institutions to keep track of such cases, as well as, to develop programs to combat both criminal and noncriminal incidents.
Braude said they can keep track of criminal anti-Semitic acts through police reports, but keeping track of other incidents like hate speech is harder and those instances tend to go unreported.
The organization also found that anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism doubled in non-denominational schools K-12 throughout the country.
“The newest trend and the newest platform that’s being used is social media, we’ve seen a huge uptake in bullying (on) social media platforms,” he said. “That makes it extremely hard for students to escape that bullying.”
Part of the work that the ADL does also includes education for schools, teachers, students and parents.
“Many schools don’t know how to respond to these kinds of prejudice incidents and they oftentimes won’t want the word about that incident to get out because it can adversely impact their reputation, cause fear in the student body and the parents,” Braude said.
The organization helps schools organize programs and gives them conversation tips for teachers and parents to address current social issues.
“The more we can engage with other people, the more we learn about them, the more familiar we become, the less animosity there is between us and the less ignorance there is, because we understand each other better,” Braude said.
In contrast to elementary and secondary schools, incidents on college campuses have neither increased or decreased, according to the ADL audit.
Braude said the reason for those numbers remaining flat is because oftentimes universities desire to keep such incidents private, or in some cases graffiti related incidents are simply removed by maintenance crews before they are reported.
Jackie Tolley, director of Hillel at San Diego State University, said it’s likely that students don’t know that they can report incidents to ADL.
Hillel at SDSU is an independent religious corporation that works with the university to serve the Jewish community. Tolley said, they work on educating students on how to respond when faced with anti-Semitic incidents.
She said they try to get students to report any incidents like an anti-Semitic flier on campus to Hillel at SDSU if they don’t want to report to ADL.
Although there has not been an increase in incidents on college campuses, Braude said the ADL has tracked been over 140 incidents across the country of white supremacists groups recruiting on campuses.
Tolley said it’s important for those who are vigilant about these acts to report anti-Semitic incidents to the university so they can be aware of the what is occurring on campus.
“It’s really difficult on a campus where free speech and academic freedom are both issues that are very near and dear to the university community,” Tolley said. “These incidents sometimes walk the line between legal or not legal.”
She said students are not always aware of incidents can also play a role in the lack of reporting.
Braude said it is important to combat these issues as a community because these trends are increasing.
“We need to start being okay with having differences and not taking it to the extremes and harboring animosity toward different people because of different views,” Braude said. “It’s so important that we bring back that civility to our communities.”