Anti-Semitic incidents declined slightly in New Jersey from 2009 to 2010, even as they increased across the nation, according to a newly-issued report by the Anti-Defamation League.
The watchdog agency’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents released on Oct. 4 showed 130 acts of anti-Jewish bias in 2010 in New Jersey, compared to 132 in the previous year.
“It is encouraging,” said Etzion Neuer, NJ ADL regional director. “Anytime we see the number go down we are pleased. But it is a number we would like to see go down precipitously. We are hoping this is the beginning of a trend. But we are under no illusions. We don’t think we are even going to see an end to this type of stubborn hatred.”
ADL’s national statistics seemed to bear this out. The number of incidents of vandalism, harassment, and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property, and community institutions across the country rose from 1,211 in 2009 to 1,239 last year, according to data gathered by law enforcement agencies and the organization’s 30 regional offices.
Although New Jersey and New York — where incidents dropped from 209 to 205 — showed a decline, two of the other top four states reported increases in anti-Jewish bias incidents. In California, they rose to 297 from 275 in 2009. In Florida, they increased from 96 to 116.
“The good news is that we have continued to enjoy a period of relative calm, where the overall numbers are mostly unchanged and the incidents isolated,” said ADL national director Abraham Foxman in a press release. “But the bad news is that for all our efforts to educate, to raise awareness, and to legislate, anti-Jewish incidents remain a disturbing part of the American-Jewish experience.”
But as he looked at statewide figures, Neuer told NJ Jewish News in a telephone interview that “New Jersey is not alone in having anti-Semitism, nor are we immune from this poison. But we have to be pleased when we see these things decrease.”
Several of the incidents reported in New Jersey occurred in Edison. In July, a man in a passing car yelled anti-Semitic remarks at a 57-year-old man and his 12-year-old son as they walked toward Congregation Ahavas Yisrael.
Three weeks later, Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El and his wife, Charlene, were called “f——-g Jews” by teenage girls in a passing car.
That same month, eight cars parked at a Lexus dealership on Route 1 were defaced with swastikas.
On Sept. 10, 2010, on the second night of Rosh Hashana, a 19-year-old student at Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva received a concussion after being taunted and jumped by a group of teenagers. A 16-year-old was tried as a juvenile offender and found guilty of third-degree aggravated assault and second-degree bias intimidation.
“There is a tendency to dismiss many of the incidents as low level, but the audit is not meant to paint a comprehensive picture of what anti-Semitism looked like in 2010,” Neuer told NJJN. “It is really a snapshot, and it does capture something. The statistics have meaning to us. New Jersey is a microcosm of trends we see across the United States.”