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Report: Increase in anti-Semitic incidents
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Report: Increase in anti-Semitic incidents

ADL leader says rise could reflect people willing to ‘speak out’

Anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey increased by 20 percent in 2012, according to a newly released survey by the Anti-Defamation League.

In the report, issued July 22, the ADL said overall figures rose from 144 incidents in 2011 to 173 a year later.

Those statistics place New Jersey third in the nation for anti-Semitic incidents. New York had 248 such attacks, California 185.

But across the nation, 927 incidents were reported — a decline from 1,080 in 2011.

While Jeffrey Salkin, ADL’s NJ regional director, said in a July 22 phone interview that the survey reflected “a very serious concern,” he also told NJ Jewish News the rising numbers must be viewed in context.

“We would like to think that it is not that anti-Semitism has increased by 20 percent but rather that the ability of people to report such acts has increased. In a state with as many Jews as New Jersey has, and a Jewish population as well informed as New Jersey’s is, I think more people are willing to speak out,” he said. “People are more aware of the resources available to them, and people are much more eager to call the ADL and local law-enforcement agencies.”

Noting similar increases in New York and California, the ADL leader said that “in the most ‘Jewish states’ anti-Semitism has gone up the most.”

In a breakdown of the 2012 incidents, the ADL said they included: 81 cases of harassment, threats, and events, 10 more than in 2011, 91 cases of vandalism, up from 72, and, as in 2011, one case of assault.

It happened at the Rutherford home where Rabbi Nosson Schuman, his parents, his wife, and their five children live. The building, which also houses Orthodox Congregation Beth El, was firebombed with Molotov cocktails on Jan. 11.

The rabbi suffered minor burns.

A 19-year-old Lodi resident, Anthony Graziano, was arrested and charged with attempted murder and arson in the attack and the firebombing of a Paramus synagogue eight days earlier.

While none of the other incidents was as violent, many were ugly and disturbing.

Among them, according to the ADL, was an anti-Semitic e-mail sent by a Piscataway student to his teacher saying, “You ugly Jew I hate you I’m pretty and your ugly.”

A student in Little Falls told several classmates that “he hates Jews” and gave a “Heil Hitler” salute after drawing a swastika in another student’s notebook.

A swastika and “finish the job b4 it’s too late!” was written in the men’s room at a New Brunswick school.

The phrase “Kill the Jews!” was painted on multiple houses in a single neighborhood in Manalapan. A swastika was scrawled on a mailbox in red paint.

In Old Bridge, the word “Jew” was scratched into the side of a vehicle parked in its owner’s driveway.

The county with the highest number of incidents was Middlesex, with 36, followed by Monmouth with 30 and Ocean with 29. Morris and Essex experienced eight incidents apiece. Mercer had four. Union reported three.

Salkin labeled such outbreaks “an interesting paradox. Jews have never been more accepted in America than they are today. Jews are a living presence in American life. That said, anti-Semitism is still a major issue. It is nowhere near as bad as it is in Europe, but it is still a live issue,” he said.

“There is a low-simmering anger in the country toward ‘the other’. It certainly comes out in anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, and Sikh, and LGBT and anti-Jewish. It demonstrates that even as America is becoming a freer and more open society there are large segments of this nation which have not accepted that,” Salkin added.

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