A wave of anti-Semitic incidents in the Garden State
A new report finds there were 200 documented anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey last year, the third-highest total of any state .
Evan Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey regional director, said that included 94 harassment incidents, 104 acts of vandalism and two assaults.
The harassment incidents included two bomb threats against a Jewish institution and one against a Jewish cemetery.
Bernstein said most of the vandalism incidents took place in public areas like parks, public transit stations, sidewalks and playgrounds, but there were also 17 incidents of vandalism against private property, which included swastikas found on homes, vehicles and apartment buildings.
“The high number of acts of anti-Semitism and vandalism against private property is a serious concern, and it leaves victims feeling vulnerable in places where they expect to feel safe and secure," he said.
Anti-Semitic incidents in school rose from 61 in 2017 to 63 last year.
Total incidents dropped from 208 in 2017 to 200 last year, but the number has increased by 33 percent in the past decade.
He also stressed New Jersey had a startling increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported during the last quarter of 2018, right after the shooting spree at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. The shooting killed 11 and injured seven.
The report also finds white supremacist groups remain active, with 41 propaganda incidents, of which seven were anti-Semitic.
The New Jersey counties with largest recorded incidents of anti-Semitism in 2018:
“The audit is largely based on reported incidents, and we believe a significant number of incidents go unreported," Bernstein said. "This is particularly true at schools were students sometimes feel fearful or intimidated and do not report incidents."
As for why there’s been a recent upswing in anti-Semitic incidents, Bernstein said it’s unclear but “it’s clear extremists feel emboldened in ways they didn’t in the past, and the internet has allowed hate to spread faster and farther than ever before. Technology has allowed small numbers of individuals to have large impacts.”
California had the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents with 341, followed by New York with 340.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, called the data "alarming and disturbing."
“New Jersey cannot and will not tolerate anti-Semitism. We are one of the most diverse states in the nation and all religions and beliefs are welcome here," he said. "I believe we as New Jerseyans are better than this and will continue to stand up to any form of hate.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com