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Report: Violent Anti-Semitic Attacks In US Doubled In 2018

 April 30, 2019 at 10:18 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The National Anti Defamation League is out with his annual survey of antisemitic incidents in the u s and as expected, the number of physical assaults against Jewish individuals in 2018 rose dramatically counting the tree of life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Physical violence against Jews increased last year by 105%. Another disturbing figure in the survey is the number of antisemitic incidents here in California even before the tragic. How about shooting in Poway? Last weekend, San Diego was among the areas with the most antisemetic activity in the country. Joining me by Skype is one of the authors of this Adl audit. Joanna Mendelssohn, she's senior investigative researcher for the Adl Center on extremism. And Joanna, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. Now the ADL has tracked antisemitic incidents for the past four decades. Can you give us an overview of the amount of antisemitic incidents that were recorded last year across the u s and and the types of those incidents? Speaker 2: 01:05 So unfortunately, antisemitic incidents in 2018 we're a record high. Uh, the third largest year increase since we've been collecting this data since 1979 in fact, violent attacks against the Jewish community in the United States doubled last year. And we saw overall a tax that also included vandalism, harassment remaining at an all time high. Speaker 1: 01:32 What might come as a surprise to some people is the California led the nation in the number of antisemitic attacks in 2018 and apparently more than 100 of them were attributed to antisemitic Robo Speaker 2: 01:46 calls. What does that mean? What are these Robo calls? Well, just to back up, we saw a 27% increase here in California as compared to the previous year and the range of the types of attacks, uh, incidents, harassment, uh, ran the gamut. One of them included Robo calls by a group, by the name of the road to power Scott Rhodes to support a political candidate, Patrick Little in his run for a GOP position against Dianne Feinstein here in California. And Speaker 1: 02:23 can you tell us about the other people responsible for these antisemitic incidents? What kind of groups are we looking at here? Speaker 2: 02:31 We're actually looking at a range of individuals, movements, groups that are responsible for these incidents. Not every single incident across the country can actually be linked to those who hold a deeply seated white supremacist ideology. In fact, in some ways we see the majority of the incidents being perpetrated by your garden variety, uh, bigots by antisemites or seen leafleting. We're seeing propaganda distribution. California is the number one state in the country in that regard for white supremacist propaganda in the nation, uh, where we've seen banners, stickers, flyers targeting college campuses, as well as off campus incidents. To that end, we've actually seen a 500% increase in off campus incidents from 2017 to 2018. Speaker 1: 03:31 Now, as you know, our community here in San Diego has been shaken by the shooting at Habad in Poway. Based on this audit, how much concern should there be that the incidents of antisemitism in the u s are escalating from vandalism to violence? Speaker 2: 03:49 We are seeing an increase in violence across the board. And sadly, you look no further than the massacre, the shooting at a Habad, you look no further than the shooting of tree of life synagogue and you look internationally to Christ's church and to Brenton, Terrance, um, and that the attack at the mosque. So we see individuals emboldened by ideology and translating that ideology into violent action. You see extremists weaponizing hate using their ability to communicate on a global level, to share their ideology and even designing attacks to use the, uh, online, uh, platforms to share their views and ideology. But what we see growing across the country is this us versus them mentality, especially by white supremacists, the feeling that they are facing this existential threat, a threat that will lead to their genocide, and that will lead to a bleak future. And in some ways that is a call to action, a call to take arms and push back against the forces that they believe seek their destruction. And so sadly, we look at the attack of Poway this past weekend with all of those hallmarks of hates. Speaker 1: 05:17 Joanna, you mentioned the attack on the mosque and in Christchurch in New Zealand, California also had the highest number of anti Muslim incidents in the nation. What do you think makes California specifically southern California, seemingly such an active region for hate? Speaker 2: 05:35 California is one of the most multicultural and liberal states in the nation. And that diversity is precisely what white supremacists suppose and what animates their ideology and activity in it is also one of the most populous states including a diversity of extremist groups and hate incidents every year. So if you look back historically racist skinhead population that grew out of England actually landed here in southern California. And to date we have the largest racist skinhead population in the country centered predominantly in southern California. And so that certainly creates this backdrop of hate. Does the Adl audit give any policy advice on how to bring down these numbers of incidents? There is a lot that we can do as a community, as a, uh, country. And first we must reinforce shared values. It is imperative that we speak out at all levels, that we use our bully pulpits to speak at immediately, directly and vociferously to challenge heat, that it exists that exists dot just after an incident, but before an incident to send the message that it will not be tolerated. Speaker 2: 06:59 We need to look at reforms in terms of our cyber response and our technology. These extremists are using technology to communicate and to help carry out their acts, and we need to look at ways to tweak, and certainly we must invest in education because the antidote to hate is education. Hate is learned, and if hate is learned, hate can be unlearned. And finally, we must remain vigilance. We cannot be reticent to push back and to act. We must remain vigilant and continue our efforts in that regard. I've been speaking with Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher for the Adl Center on extremism. Joanna, thank you very much. Thanks for highlighting this today.

The New York-based group counted 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents — either harassment, vandalism or physical assault — in 2018.