A letter to the editor (“A symbol of hate,” Aug. 5) incorrectly accused the ADL of “downgrading the swastika as an anti-Jewish hate symbol.” Nonsense; we have done no such thing.
We know that the swastika is the symbol of Nazism, the most significant anti-Semitic movement in the history of mankind. What ADL has done is update our methodology for our annual survey of anti-Semitic incidents by observing that the swastika remains a symbol of hate and, wherever it appears, serves as an example of some form of hatred but not necessarily targeting Jews. Bigots are now using the swastika to direct their hate toward a variety of groups. In New Jersey and across the United States this unfortunately occurs frequently.
No organization is more acutely aware of the far-too-many instances where swastikas were aimed at Jews and Jewish institutions in acts of anti-Semitic vandalism against synagogues, community institutions, and private property. Those incidents were counted and included in ADL statistics because it was clear in those cases that the swastikas were specifically used with anti-Semitic intent.
Anti-Semitism is still a real phenomenon in this country and the subject deserves a serious and thoughtful approach. Our revised and more careful way of measuring incidents is one element in that endeavor.