America's alarming rise in antisemitism

An illustrated image of a Star of David being cut by scissors
An illustrated image of a Star of David being cut by scissors Illustrated/Getty Images

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose in 2022 to their highest level since The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) first began tracking them in 1979. In a new report, the ADL recorded 3,697 cases of antisemitism, including assault, vandalism, and harassment, a 36 percent increase from the year before. The data follows an uptick in antisemitism over the past five years, and "the upward trend is alarming," CNN says. The report includes anecdotal evidence from victims and community leaders and police statistics, which all indicate an increase in hate-based attacks, "from offensive comments to antisemitic slurs written on property to physical attacks," CNN added. Last year there was a 69 percent increase in attacks against Orthodox Jews in particular, per the report.

"The brazenness of these attacks, sometimes in broad daylight, is a huge concern," Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL Center on Extremism, told CNN. The findings in the ADL's latest report validate what many in the Jewish community have been feeling, Segal said, "that antisemitism seems to be popping up everywhere and often."

'A new era for antisemitism'

The ADL refrained from speculating on motivations for the rise, but Aryeh Tuchman, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, told CBS News that the "largest and most noteworthy bucket of incidents" contributing to the trend "is organized white supremacist activity." White supremacist networks produced more than double the amount of antisemitic propaganda from the previous year. The report also noted that antisemitic remarks from rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, contributed to the spike in anti-Jewish rhetoric. The ADL stated that the "impact of Ye's comments was felt on the ground across the country."

"We're in a new era for antisemitism," Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told The New York Times. "We're now seeing Jews becoming a default target."

'The solutions are not a mystery'

The root causes of antisemitism are complex, but "the solutions are not a mystery," wrote Frida Ghitis at CNN. The responsibility is "on everyone's shoulders" to stop the conspiracy theories, lies, and toxic messaging circulating on social media, cable news, and in the political sphere. "Students everywhere should learn about the Holocaust," and public safety agencies need "a commonly accepted definition of antisemitism," which will help them better identify and prevent hate crimes. And of course, politicians on both sides of the aisle "must do a more forthright job of calling out antisemitism in their midst."

Indeed, the ADL's audit should be a wake-up call for government officials, the organization said, calling on leaders to openly condemn antisemitism and urging them to launch "a concerted whole-of-government, whole-of-society response," including addressing antisemitic rhetoric online. Jewish Americans should increase security at their institutions "but also to remain proud and confident," Tuchman told CBS News. "These findings should be a call to action, but not the source of fear and alarm."

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