BOSTON – The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts has decreased by approximately 47% in 2012, according to newly issued statistics from the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The League’s Audit counted a total of 38 incidents in Massachusetts during 2012, a decline from 72 over the previous year.
“This year’s statistics are a reflection of the work that has been done, not only by ADL, but by community leaders, law enforcement, and teachers, who have stood up against hate,” said ADL Regional Director Robert Trestan.
“As ADL celebrates its centennial year, the results of this audit only set the bar higher. As a community, we must continue the fight against anti-Semitism. Although we have seen a decline in the number of reported incidents, we still face issues of hate and anti-Semitism all too frequently, many of which go unreported,” explained Trestan. “This is particularly true when looking at internet hate, which is why it has become an ADL Priority.”
As a whole, the New England Region saw a 54% decrease in incidents, declining from 83 in 2011 to 45 in 2012. Individually, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont saw slight changes in their number of reported incidents. New Hampshire, where the number of incidents dropped from 6 to 3 in 2011, reported only one less incident this year, with 2 in total. Vermont saw a decrease from 1 incident in 2011 to 0 in 2012 and Rhode Island, where 6 incidents were reported in 2010, has seen a decrease over the past 2 years, reporting only 1 incident in 2012. In Maine, however, 4 incidents were reported, offering no change from their number in 2011.
The total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States fell by 14% in 2012, continuing a three-year trend of incremental declines, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
The ADL Audit reported a total of 927 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. in 2012 including assaults, vandalism and harassment, marking a 14 percent decline from the 1,080 incidents reported in 2011.
The 2012 total included 17 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 470 cases of harassment, threats and events, and 440 cases of vandalism. The Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents reported to ADL in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
“It is encouraging that in the past few years we have seen a fairly consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “While these numbers only provide one snapshot of anti-Semitism in America, to the extent that they serve as a barometer the decline shows that we have made progress as a society in confronting anti-Jewish hatred. Still, it is disturbing that there are so many incidents in America, and we must remain vigilant in responding to them and in encouraging law enforcement and the public to report these incidents as much as possible.”
Despite the overall decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2012, the complete picture is more complex. For even as anti-Semitic harassment, threats and events declined – to 470 incidents in 2012, from 731 in 2011 – other categories remained at a similar level or increased substantially.
“While we cannot point to any single explanation for the fluctuations from year to year, the declines of the past several years occur within the context of the continued proliferation of hatred online,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair. “Unlike years ago, when racists handed out pamphlets on street corners or sent them through the mail, the Internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions.
“This explosion of viral hate is impossible to quantify, but it may have led to a migration of sorts where the haters and bigots are more likely to take to the Internet to express themselves anonymously, rather than acting out in a public setting,” added Mr. Curtiss-Lusher. “The danger, of course, is that these online expressions can inspire and fuel real-world violence.”