ADL head: On NY Islamic center, we were wrong, plain and simple

An example of a clear, unequivocal apology (politicians and others to take note):

Around the world Jews are celebrating the High Holy Days. During this time, Jews focus on the need for Teshuvah, or self-examination and repentance. But self-examination need not be limited to individuals.

Institutions, especially century-old institutions like ADL, also can commit to the practice of self-examination and Teshuvah. And it is in this spirit that I have been reflecting on a stance ADL took 11 years ago when we opposed the location of the then-proposed Park51 Islamic Community Center & Mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Originally known as Cordoba House, and modeled after the 92nd Street Y, the project planned to include community and cultural spaces with the goal of fostering interfaith dialogue and promoting peace and understanding. I believe the stance we took is one for which we owe the Muslim community an apology.

Further, amidst ADL’s reflection, and approaching the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, our nation’s sudden and disastrously planned withdrawal from Afghanistan is heartbreaking. For me personally, and ADL as a whole, this catastrophe made our Teshuvah all the more urgent.
Today one can see how the Cordoba House could have helped to heal our country as we nursed the wounds from the horror of 9/11. As we near the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, the need for healing remains. Arguably, it has attained an increased urgency after the tumult of recent years and especially now as we prepare to welcome refugees from Afghanistan, including many who supported our troops and our ideals, and now flee the onslaught of the Taliban. Sadly, rather than heal, we have seen Islamophobia persist in ugly ways.
As the leading anti-hate organization in the US, with experts tracking extremism of all sorts, ADL is committed to help our Muslim allies counter Islamophobia. Indeed, we have been doing so for many decades. And this is exactly why, as a dear Muslim friend told me recently, ADL’s stance on the Cordoba House project was “a punch in the gut to the Muslim community.” I hope that by righting this wrong, we can be better allies in the fight against the rise in anti-Muslim hate that is coming — and it is coming.
I say this, because as most Americans were praying for the Afghan people, generously donating funds and preparing to welcome some number of Afghan civilians into our great nation, some so-called “experts” began spreading alarmist and Islamophobic disinformation in shameless attempts to block these brutalized civilians from coming to the United States. Adding to the alarm, these insidious conspiracy theories are coming during a time that the FBI is reportingthe highest level of hate crimes in over a decade.
And that is likely just the opening chorus of anti-Muslim sentiment that I fear will swell in the weeks, months and years ahead.
We’ve seen it before.
We saw it in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The FBI tracked a massive spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2001, compared to 2000: a jump from 28 incidents to 481. Muslims were profiled, attacked and killed, mosques were desecrated, slander flowed in the media and even members of the Sikh community were attacked simply because they wore turbans.
And we saw it again in 2010, when a media storm rose up around Cordoba House. While the country was in many ways less polarized in 2010 than in our present moment, it was still a fraught time. A time when you could almost see the lines that divide us today being drawn.
When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan envisioned the creation of Cordoba House, they intended to foster better relations between the Islamic world and America, and to serve as a public rejection of extremism.
Sadly, it was portrayed very differently. Some polemicists immediately pounced. The media dubbed it the “Ground Zero Mosque,” an unfair name that instantly cast the project in a negative light. Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued for it. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich railed against it. The impassioned families of victims could be heard on both sides of the debate. Other public figures piled on, virtually climbing over each other to be heard. The tension reached a boiling point as local community boards repeatedly voted in favorof the project amidst continued protests and counter protests.
Then ADL weighed in. Although before my tenure, I know that ADL struggled with the decision, trying to balance a genuine desire to support a noble endeavor but also to support the victims and families of the 9/11 terrorist attack who voiced opposition. And so, ADL decided not to oppose the project outright, but instead tried to take a nuanced position, advocating for a location change that the organization felt would help lead to the type of reconciliation the project itself was meant to represent.
There are likely other ways ADL’s voice could have improved rather than impaired the conversation. For instance, as some of the organizers later reflected, more engagement early on with victims’ families could have gone a long way in achieving the ultimate goal of fostering reconciliation and peace. Daisy Kahn once explained how the goal of Cordoba House was to “repair the breach and be at the front and center to start the healing.” Perhaps ADL should have helped facilitate such a discussion.
And yet, we chose to weigh in differently. And through deep reflection and conversation with many friends within the Muslim community, the real lesson is a simple one: we were wrong, plain and simple.
Ultimately, the project as envisioned never came to be — with the development primarily becoming another familiar condominium tower.
We can’t change the past. But we accept responsibility for our unwise stance on Cordoba House, apologize without caveat and commit to doing our utmost going forward to use our expertise to fight anti-Muslim bias as allies.
As we see the signs of another surge in anti-Muslim hate, it is imperative that the collective we — civil society, the business community, elected officials and the American citizenry writ large — embrace the idea and intent of Cordoba House and work together to foster peace.
We have seen Muslims demonized in recent years in ways that make the heart ache — from the early talk of a “Muslim registry” in days after the 2016 election to the travel ban imposed the following year on Muslim-majority countries to the unfounded conspiratorial claims of Muslims invading the US that still show up in the rantings of some prime-time cable news personalities. This is in addition to the all-too frequent use of slander and stereotypes of Islam on social media platforms. ADL’s most recent survey of online hate and harassment found that Muslim respondents regularly experience identity-based harassment. This kind of ugliness seems to be on a permanent loop.
It’s clear that some of the wild charges lodged against Cordoba House — that it was organized by “radical Islamists” and “terrorist sympathizers” — were part of this pattern. And we must not allow this pattern to continue, especially as Afghans seek refuge in the promise of America.
This must start with the Biden administration stepping up to ensure Afghan refugees do not face burdensome roadblocks or are unjustly denied entry to our nation. This is why over 300 organizations, including ADL, signed a recent letter to President Joe Biden expressing “our support for a robust humanitarian response from the United States and our commitment to assist Afghans in danger” while also imploring the administration to “expand opportunities for Afghans to seek refuge.”
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But the work doesn’t stop there. It is on all of us to fight back against the Islamophobic attempts to prevent refugees from gaining asylum. Again, we already see the disturbing “invasion” claim being thrown around again in direct reference to Afghan refugees. Some have tried to rationalize their hate by invoking the White supremacist “Great Replacement” theory. All of it is wrong.
We are better than this. We actively can choose not only to reject hate, but to embrace those in need. ADL’s stance on Cordoba House was an error that pales alongside the abrupt abandonment of our Afghan allies, but all of us should draw upon our better angels and welcome those poor and huddled masses who today seek our support.

Source: ADL head: On NY Islamic center, we were wrong, plain and simple

After Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, anti-Asian tweets and conspiracies rose 85%: report

Not surprising. Words matter:

Anti-Asian bigotry and conspiracy theories spiked on Twitter immediately following President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis this month, new findings reveal.

The report, released last week by the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group, examined Twitter activity surrounding Trump’s diagnosis on Oct. 2. Researchers found an 85 percent increase in anti-Asian rhetoric and conspiracy theories on the platform in the 12 hours following the announcement, many blaming China.

The surge in bigoted tweets also occurred shortly after Trump said the pandemic is “China’s fault” during the first presidential debate and further referred to the virus as the “China plague.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the research shows that anyone who fails to see the link between the harmful rhetoric and subsequent bigotry is “lying to themselves.”

“These people — who include the president and congressional Republicans — want to stoke xenophobia and anger but also want to deny the dangerous impact their own words are having,” Chu said. “You can’t have it both ways, and this report exposes the danger of pushing racially based conspiracy theories like this.”

The report, “At the Extremes: The 2020 Election and American Extremism,” examined more than 2.7 million tweets that were posted from the four hours before Trump announced his diagnosis, as well as that of Melania Trump, to the afternoon the following day.

Researchers looked at tweets with mentions of the accounts @realdonaldtrump, @potus and @flotus, as well as @senatorloeffler, the account of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who had pushed people to “hold China accountable” and “remember: China gave this virus to our President.” The researchers also looked at tweets with at least one of the keywords “trump,” “melania,” “first lady,” “china virus,” “plague,” “kung flu” and “Wuhan.”

Researchers found not only that was there a surge in anti-Asian tweets in the hours after Trump’s diagnosis was announced, but also that anti-Asian sentiment on the platform remained elevated for days afterward. The report revealed that the rate of discussions about various conspiracy theories — including one that alleges that the virus was engineered by humans and another that claims that Covid-19 is “patented,” a bioweapon created by the Chinese government — increased by 41 percent. The research also shows that some of the conversations veered into anti-Semitism or had anti-Semitic overtones.

Asian Americans have been weathering increased hostility since the beginning of the pandemic. The reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate collected reports of 2,583 hate incidents directed at Asian Americans from March 19 to Aug. 5, during the pandemic. Almost 800 of the reports said anti-Chinese rhetoric was used. What’s more, previous research suggests that the use of terms like “China virus” and “kung flu,” particularly by conservative outlets, has already seeped into U.S. perceptions of Asian Americans.

While anti-Asian bias had been in steady decline for over a decade, the trend reversed in days after a significant uptick in discriminatory coronavirus speech, according to a study published in September.On March 9 alone, there was an 800 percent increase in such rhetoric among conservative media outlets. The language led to an increased subconscious belief that Asian Americans are “perpetual foreigners,” researchers said.

“Progress against bias is generally stable,” Eli Michaels, a researcher on that study, has said previously. “But this particular rhetoric, which associates a racial group with a global pandemic, has particularly pernicious effects.”

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., the main sponsor of a House resolution that called on public officials to denounce any anti-Asian sentiment, said she herself had been targeted with a slew of racist voicemails after the legislation was passed in September. In one message, a caller said she looked “like a Chinese virus, you fat slob.” And she said another claimed that the harmful rhetoric is “not racist, it’s the truth. Filthy people.”

“The report shows no signs of this bigotry and xenophobia ending any time soon,” Meng said. She said the racist and obscenity-laced voicemails were filled anti-Asian remarks that Trump has made about the coronavirus, such as “Chinese virus” and “kung flu” — “the very things I and the House condemned in passing my measure.”

Chu said that as the election approaches, she is “absolutely afraid of more attacks” against Asian Americans. The report ultimately “draws a clear line from the kinds of conspiracy theories Trump spreads to help his own re-election directly to the spike in anti-Asian hate that we are seeing,” she said.

“Covid-19 is continuing to ravage this country, claiming hundreds of lives a day, but the president still does not have a plan to address it,” Chu said. “While he downplays the virus, he still blames China for every death and continues to stoke xenophobia that puts innocent Asian Americans at risk of violence. The president isn’t only indifferent to that. He’s accelerating it.”

Neo-Nazis from U.S. and Europe build far-right links at concerts in Germany

Of note. As if we don’t have enough to worry about these days…

As the deafeningly loud, rapid-fire music known as “hate rock” blasted out, hundreds of white nationalists, skinheads and neo-Nazis nodded their heads and swigged their drinks.

Among them was Keith, 46, a welder from Las Vegas, who for the second year in a row had traveled from Nevada to Germany to attend several far-right events.

“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” Keith told NBC News in June.

However, he was not there just to enjoy the music. He said he was also hoping to share ideas and strategies with like-minded people — a small part of what Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said was becoming an increasingly interconnected international movement with “clear links” between Europe and the U.S.

“You can’t just sit at home and eat cheeseburgers anymore. It’s time to mobilize,” said Keith, who did not wish to have his last name published, for fear of reprisals back in the U.S.

Events like the one in Themar, a small town in central Germany, are reluctantly tolerated and strictly controlled by the authorities. Both federal and local police could be seen monitoring the gathering, and riot squads with water cannons were braced for trouble nearby.

Keith changed his clothes before venturing to the event. At a privately run hotel before the event, he had been dressed from head to toe in clothing full of white power symbolism, and he wore a necklace showing Odin’s wolves and Thor’s hammer.

His big steel-capped boots, with 14 lace holes representing a popular white supremacist slogan, were scuffed from “brawling,” he boasted.

He said he was prevented from wearing them outside because German police considered them a weapon.

The country’s laws also ban the display of Nazi imagery and any action that could be deemed an incitement of hatred. To avoid arrest, many attendees walked around with Band-Aids on to hide their swastika tattoos.

“You’ll notice there’s a whole lot of people with scratches or bruises around here,” Keith said, adding that while he had given Nazi salutes many times, he would not do so in Germany because he would likely be arrested

Like other events of its type, it was held just outside the town, cordoned off to keep it separate from the local community. Keith and his fellow attendees then faced a gauntlet of searches and Breathalyzer tests from the authorities and jeering from a handful of anti-fascist protesters.

Separated by police and metal barriers, one of the demonstrators blew bubbles at them, while another taunted them with a beer can on a fishing rod.

As they have at many events of this type, police had banned the sale of alcohol, citing violence at similar events in the past. In March 2019, journalists and police officers were attacked at a far-right rock concert in Saxony.

Once inside the event in Themar, attendees, including a number of Americans like Keith, were greeted by Patrick Schroeder, who runs a weekly internet TV show espousing far-right views. He handed them free red baseball caps emblazoned with “MGHA,” shortform for “Make Germany Hate Again.” They mimick the “Make America Great Again” hats used to promote Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“We make it look like the Donald Trump party when he was elected,” said Schroeder, who has been dubbed a “nipster,” or “Nazi-hipster,” by the German media.

While the German government does not regularly publish the number of far-right events and concerts, the Interior Ministry has provided them when asked by members of Parliament. The last time they were made public, the figures showed that there had been 132 events of this type from January to September 2019.

There was a “major increase” in the number of violent crimes linked to the far right in Germany in 2017, according to the latest report from the Interior Ministry. The rise in right-wing extremist offenses motivated by anti-Semitism during the reporting year was also “noticeable,” it said, without providing figures.

In the U.S. meanwhile, the FBI recorded 7,036 hate crimes in 2018 — the latest figures available — of which 59.6 percent were racially motivated. That was a 17 percent spike in hate crimes overall, and there was a 37 percent increase in anti-Jewish incidents — the most common kind.

While it is unclear how many Americans attend events like the one in Themar, “there’s a great deal of cross-pollination” between the far right in Europe and the U.S., said Greenblatt.

“There are clear links between white supremacists in the United States and their ideological fellow travelers in Europe,” Greenblatt said in an interview, adding that the alt-right in the U.S. and Europe’s far-right Identitarian movement were both young and sophisticated and used the internet and social media to spread their messages.

“Both these movements have a lot in common,” he added. “They are anti-globalization, they are anti-democratic, they are anti-Semitic to the core, and they are highly opposed to multiculturalism and diversity of any sort.”

European white supremacists were marching in 2017 at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where counterdemonstrator Heather Heyer was killed when a car was deliberately driven into a crowd, he said.

A few months later, American white supremacists marched at the Independence Day rally in Poland, he added.

Greenblatt said there was a “through line” between a series of atrocities linked to attackers inspired by far-right thinking, including Anders Breivik, now 40, who killed 77 people in Norway’s worst terrorist attack in July 2011.

Breivik told a court that he wanted to promote his manifesto, a mixture of his thinking, far-right theories and other people’s writing. This included sections from a manifesto produced by Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who over a number of years sent letter bombs to several universities and airlines, killing three people and wounding 23 others.

American white supremacist Dylann Roof, now 25, who killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in a bid to promote a “race war” in June 2015, cited Breivik as an influence, as did white nationalist Alexandre Bissonnette, now 21, who shot six people dead at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017. Bissonnette also praised Roof.

After 11 people were gunned down at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, the suspect, Robert Gregory Bowers, was found to have repeatedly threatened Jews in online forums. British lawmaker Jo Cox was killed in the street in 2016 by a man inspired by far-right beliefs.

In March 2019, a man walked into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 59 people as he livestreamed the attack on Facebook. He referred to Breivik, Roof and Bissonnette in his writings.

“We are no longer talking about one-off events, but a loosely coordinated chain of far-right attacks across the world, where members of these networks inspire — and challenge — each other to beat each other’s body counts,” said Peter Neumann, a professor of security studies at King’s College London.

These killers want to “launch a race war,” he said, adding: “The aim is to carry out attacks, claim responsibility, explain your actions and inspire others to follow.”

Describing himself as “a white internationalist because I’m international at this point and I’m participating in political activities on more than one continent,” Keith said he did not approve of violence.

But he said he thought the far-right attacks were a “direct result of the terrorist attacks that have happened against Christians and white people throughout the world.”

Keith said he did not believe that Trump was a white nationalist, although he said the U.S. president was “definitely white” and “definitely a nationalist.”

However, he added: “To put the two together is suggesting that he has some kind of desire to be associated with people like myself, and I don’t believe he does.”

Nevertheless, he said it is “great” having a national leader who “makes common-sense decisions in line” with his own beliefs.

Greenblatt said he found it “deeply disturbing” to see neo-Nazis “taking cues from our commander in chief.”

Trump has been criticized on a number of occasions for his use of language and his failure to condemn racist behavior from his supporters.

After Heyer was killed, Trump declared that there were “very fine people on both sides,” although in a later White House briefing he said the “egregious display of “hatred, bigotry and violence” had “no place in America.

Similarly, as the president stood by, the crowd at a Trump rally last year in Greenville, North Carolina, chanted “send her back” about the Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, collectively known as “the squad.”

Trump later disavowed those chants, telling reporters: “i was not happy with it. I disagree with it.”

Asked about whether white supremacists were taking their cues from Trump, a White House spokesperson told NBC News the the president had consistently and repeatedly rejected racism, racial discrimination, and anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

That should be a real cause for concern, Greenblatt said. “The racists feel like they have someone who is in their corner, and that is a total break from the role of the presidency.”

Source: Neo-Nazis from U.S. and Europe build far-right links at concerts in Germany

White supremacist propaganda spreading, anti-bias group says [ADL]

The latest from ADL. Correlates with the Trump presidency and the license it provides:

Incidents of white supremacist propaganda distributed across the nation jumped by more than 120% between 2018 and last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, making 2019 the second straight year that the circulation of propaganda material has more than doubled.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported 2,713 cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups, including fliers, posters and banners, compared with 1,214 cases in 2018. The printed propaganda distributed by white supremacist organizations includes material that directly spreads messages of discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ people and other minority communities — but also items with their prejudice obscured by a focus on gauzier pro-America imagery.

The sharp rise in cases of white supremacist propaganda distribution last year follows a jump of more than 180% between 2017, the first year that the Anti-Defamation League tracked material distribution, and 2018. While 2019 saw cases of propaganda circulated on college campuses nearly double, encompassing 433 separate campuses in all but seven states, researchers who compiled the data found that 90% of campuses only saw one or two rounds of distribution.

Oren Segal, director of the League’s Center on Extremism, pointed to the prominence of more subtly biased rhetoric in some of the white supremacist material, emphasizing “patriotism,” as a sign that the groups are attempting “to make their hate more palatable for a 2020 audience.”

By emphasizing language “about empowerment, without some of the blatant racism and hatred,” Segal said, white supremacists are employing “a tactic to try to get eyes onto their ideas in a way that’s cheap, and that brings it to a new generation of people who are learning how to even make sense out of these messages.”’

The propaganda incidents tracked for the Anti-Defamation League’s report, set for release on Wednesday, encompass 49 states and occurred most often in 10 states: California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Washington and Florida.

Last year’s soaring cases of distributed propaganda also came as the Anti-Defamation League found white supremacist groups holding 20% fewer events than in 2018, “preferring not to risk the exposure of pre-publicized events,” according to its report. That marks a shift from the notably visible public presence that white supremacist organizations mounted in 2017, culminating in that summer’s Charlottesville, Va., rally where a self-described white supremacist drove into a crowd of counterprotesters.

About two-thirds of the total propaganda incidents in the new report were traced back to a single white supremacist group, Patriot Front, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as “formed by disaffected members” of the white supremacist organization Vanguard America after the Charlottesville rally.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism as well as other biases, has tracked Patriot Front propaganda using messages such as “One nation against invasion” and “America First.” The report to be released Wednesday found that Patriot Front played a major role last year in boosting circulation of white supremacist propaganda on campuses through a push that targeted colleges in the fall.

Segal said that his group’s research can equip community leaders with education that helps them push back against white supremacist groups’ messaging efforts, including distribution aimed at students.

University administrators, Segal said, should speak out against white supremacist messaging drives, taking the opportunity “to demonstrate their values and to reject messages of hate that may be appearing on their campus.”

Several educational institutions where reports of white supremacist propaganda were reported in recent months did just that. After white supremacist material was reported on campus at Brigham Young University in November, the school tweeted that it “stands firmly against racism in any form and is committed to promoting a culture of safety, kindness, respect and love.”

The school went on to tweet a specific rejection of white supremacist sentiment as “sinful” by its owner, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without naming the identity of the group behind the propaganda.

While some of the propaganda cataloged in the Anti-Defamation League’s report uses indirect messaging in service of a bigoted agenda, other groups’ activity is more openly threatening toward Jews and minority groups. The New Jersey European Heritage Association, a smaller white supremacist group founded in 2018, “contains numerous anti-Semitic tropes and refers to Jews as ‘destroyers’” in its most recent distributed flier, according to the report.

The Anti-Defamation League’s online monitoring of propaganda distribution is distinct from its tracking of white supremacist events and attacks, and that tracking does not include undistributed material such as graffiti, Segal explained.

Source: White supremacist propaganda spreading, anti-bias group says

Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

Good serious comparison of the various datasets available. The observations regarding the limitations of ADL statistics also apply to B’nai Brith as to those on FBI data also apply to StatsCan complication of police reported hate crimes.

With respect to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the closest Canadian equivalent is the currently underway General Social Survey – Canadians’ Safety (GSS) which includes self-reported victimization, to be released winter 2020-21:

On Sunday, a Jewish man standing outside a synagogue was shot in the leg in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. It was only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks this year.

These attacks have brought in their wake headlines declaring “a spike in hate crimes” and “increased anti-Semitic attacks all across this country,” based on episodes like Sunday’s as well as data. Earlier this year, the FBI reported the largest increase in hate crimes since 2001, and the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-semitic incidents rose by 57% in 2017.

As a result, a consensus has developed around the idea that hate crime and anti-Semitism are rising, and that Jews are no longer safe in the U.S. Leaders across the political divide agree.

But I’ve found myself skeptical of these claims of rising hate. Partly, this is because of a rather personal reason: Since moving to the US over a decade ago, I have never personally experienced hate or a hate crime.

But I was skeptical for a professional reason too. As a mathematician by training, I spent my PhD years working with messy crime data. And the truth is, it cannot be trusted at face value.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the data on hate crimes, especially those pertaining to the Jewish community, might have similar problems.

And it does. Big time.

To dig deeper, I looked at all the available data on hate crimes, which included incidents of hate by year, surveys, and reports. I sought out datasets, what are in their ideal form collected methodically year after year by faceless government statisticians. I also downloaded spreadsheets and mined the numbers myself.

What I found will probably surprise you: We have a real anti-Semitism problem in this country. But it’s not getting worse.

It’s important to keep in mind that hate crimes are not a leading cause of injury or death; in the same year 37,000 people were killed on the roads, and 2.3 million injured or disabled.

But you can’t compare hate crimes to road accidents; with a hate crime, like with terrorism, the victim is targeted because of their group identity, and the entire group feels threatened. Hate crimes select symbolic targets, such as community buildings, whose significance far exceeds their property value.

And research indicates that being in a targeted group is not just discomforting but can have a tangible effect how people behave. We know from Europe that attacks on Jews can trigger a wave of immigration to Israel, and it should not be assumed that the same cannot happen to American Jews.

Even more disturbingly, research on fertility data from 170 countries found that during waves of terrorism there is a decline in births.

All of this made me even more anxious to find out if there was actually a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping through America. So I sought out the two most frequently-cited sources of hate crime data: reports from the ADL and the FBI.

Let’s start with baselines. According to the FBI’s most recent data, 2017 saw 7,175 hate crimes nationwide, including 15 hate murders. Anti-Jewish hate crime incidents represented 13% of all incidents – 923 – coming in second only to Anti-Black hate crimes, which numbered 2,013 incidents.

There were also more anti-Semitic incidents than “anti-gay” crimes, for example. Most importantly for our purposes, because Jews make up just 1-2%of the US population, these numbers mean that the Jewish community is targeted by hate crimes disproportionately to its numbers by a factor of ten.

The ADL has been tabulating data on anti-Semitic hate crime for an impressive 40 years, and it receives data both from the police and the public. The ADL has built out a modern data center and has interactive online visualizations.

In its most recent audit, the ADL reported that 2018 had the third-highest number of incidents of the past four decades, with 1,879 incidents. The 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016, and 99% higher than in 2015. Both 2017 and 2018 had far more incidents than typical for the previous eight years. This is, indeed, alarming.

However, these numbers should be taken with a mild dose of the proverbial salt. The problem with hate data is that only 20% of hate crimes are reported to the police, and, one suspects, even fewer to the ADL. So the statistics give just the tip of an iceberg; the majority of hate times are not included in this count.

This makes them somewhat unreliable. To rely on 20% of the data to determine if there is a wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes would be like looking at the top shelf of your fridge, and finding it overflowing, deciding that you need to buy a larger fridge (I would suggest looking at the other four shelves first).

And you can’t just compare the 20% of reported crimes each year to the 20% from last for the simple fact that the reporting rate is not a constant 20% of all crimes. Reporting goes up and down along with public concern. An increase in concern about hate crimes can increase the number of reports by the public, and even the number of police investigations, making more of the “iceberg” (or fridge) visible and inflating the numbers.

To put it plainly, if many people started to believe, fairly or not, that we are in the midst of a wave of hate, they would also start to report more hate crimes, making the data inconsistent with the past.

This is not to say that the jump in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported by sources like the ADL is a statistical mirage. But the reality is probably different from what the numbers suggest.

Independently of the ADL, the FBI has been reporting hate crime data since the 1990s through its Hate Crime database. It has developed impressive guidelinesto judge if a crime incident is indeed a hate crime, and its reports are available online. Surely, here we can expect to finally find deep databases processed by standard and reliable statistical methods!

But alas, the FBI’s numbers also need to be taken with a little grain of kosher salt. The problem is that crimes are generally reported to the local police department and not to the FBI directly, so the FBI’s data is only as good as the reports it receives.

In some states, less than 10% of the police agencies bother to report to the FBI at all, and likely only report the more severe crimes. As a credit to the system, the FBI provides consistent data that goes back to the 1990s, and thus is well-suited to recording if there are any national trends.

But charting the FBI data from 1996 to 2017 suggests that we are far from having achieved new heights of anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitic incidents peaked in 1999 at 1,109 per year, then declined from 2008 to 2014, and have been trending up since then, reaching 976 in 2017.

As with the ADL numbers, the data quality is not great, thanks to under-reporting. But even taking that into account, we appear to still be well below the numbers of the 1990s.

Fortunately, there is another government crime tracking program that has been all but forgotten by the press: the National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike the ADL and the FBI, who collect reports, the NCVS goes out to the communities and interviews some 160,000 people every year, asking them if they were victims of various crimes.

Because the NCVS uses a representative sample, it can reliably estimate the number of crimes in the entire country, including hate crimes. If there is a wave of hate in America, the NCVS would detect it in its survey.

In its most recent report, NCVS estimated that 204,000 hate crimes occur in the US annually, of which just 15,000 are confirmed by the police.

The NCVS also shows that hate crime rates have been steady every year since 2015, and were probably higher ten years ago.

There is no data specifically on anti-Semitism in NCVS, but if we assume per the FBI’s estimate that about 13% of hate crimes are anti-Semitic, then there are a staggering 26,000 anti-Semitic crimes every year in the US — 30 times more than reported by the FBI and 14 times more than the ADL.

What we can learn from these statistics is both good and bad. For all the problems of the last few years, there is no reason to fear a wave of hate, because the wave, if it exists, is a small one.

Today’s Jewish America has probably the safest existence of any Jewish community in history. In this generation, a Jew is much more likely to suffer a car accident than a hate crime.

But to believe naively in the American utopia is to ignore the truth: Hate is alive and well in America, and Jews are often the target of it.

Source: Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

White Supremacist Propaganda At ‘Record-Setting’ Levels, ADL Report Finds

Canada not immune. A more subtle approach. Not sure that this replaces more overt demonstrations and gatherings, or just complements it:

At first, you might not realize the flyer was put there by a white supremacy group.

The poster, in shades of black, white and teal, features Andrew Jackson on horseback. The accompanying text reads: “European roots, American greatness.”

Flyers like this, posted across the country by American neo-Nazi and white supremacist group Identity Evropa are popping up far more than they used to. Others feature George Washington. According to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacy propaganda increased by 182 percent in 2018 compared with the year before.

The increase in flyers and other propaganda reflects a relatively new strategy for hate groups, the ADL says. Under intense scrutiny, white supremacists are reluctant to show their face in public, so they’re relying more on leaflets and posters to spread hate without putting themselves at personal risk, it adds.

ADL counted 1,187 incidents of propaganda in 2018, up from 421 incidents in 2017. While college campuses remain a primary target, most of the increase occurred off of college campuses, with 868 incidents in 2018, up from 129 the year before. The alt-right also uses banners to promote its message, the ADL said, counting 32 instances of white supremacist banners hung in high-visibility locations such as highway overpasses.

Increased propaganda efforts “allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash,” the ADL wrote.

The frequent subtlety of the flyers is intentional, and represents a shift in the way white supremacy groups are attempting to spread their ideology, the ADL reports.

“If you know what you’re looking at, the white supremacists’ banners, stickers and fliers clearly convey racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” ADL senior investigative researcher Carla Hill wrote in Politico. “But the messaging is not always overtly hateful.”

According to the ADL, the goal of these understated flyers is to appeal to mainstream conservatives, who might appreciate the seemingly innocuous message of American exceptionalism. But their underlying message, the ADL says, is one of hate.

Identity Evropa — designated as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — focuses on encouraging white people to embrace their shared racial identity. According to the ADL, Identity Evropa is the group that popularized the white supremacist slogan “You will not replace us,” which was chanted during the rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a white nationalist drove into a crowd of protesters, killing one woman.

Hill also cited another group, the Patriot Front, which posts red, white and blue flyers, espouses “mainstream conservative messaging” such as “America First,” and rallies against what it calls “fake news.” But “when they gather for events, Patriot Front members are far less circumspect about their racism, frequently shouting ‘Blood and Soil!,’ a callback to a Nazi slogan,” Hill wrote.

As they’re increasing their propaganda, hate groups are also rethinking how they hold public events. While the number of racist rallies and demonstrations rose last year, from 76 in 2017 to 91 in 2018, fewer of those events were announced beforehand, the ADL said. Instead, hate groups are using “flash mob” techniques, coming together to rally without giving opponents time to mobilize. Identity Evropa and the group Patriot Front held more than 30 “unannounced, quickly disbanded gatherings” last year, ADL said.

White supremacy groups are “trying to take advantage of a very polarized sociopolitical landscape,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told The Wall Street Journal.

And by posting photos of the propaganda on social media, these groups can make themselves seem to be more influential than they really are, Levin said.

Source: White Supremacist Propaganda At ‘Record-Setting’ Levels, ADL Report Finds

ADL tallies up roughly 4 million anti-Semitic tweets in 2017

It would be nice to have comparative data with respect to different religions just as we do for police-reported hate crimes. :

At least 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets were shared or re-shared from roughly 3 million Twitter accounts last year, according to an Anti-Defamation League report released Monday. Most of those accounts are believed to be operated by real people rather than automated software known as bots, the organization, an international NGO that works against anti-Semitism and bigotry, said.

The anti-Semitic accounts constitute less than 1% of the roughly 336 million active accounts,

“This new data shows that even with the steps Twitter has taken to remove hate speech and to deal with those accounts disseminating it, users are still spreading a shocking amount of anti-Semitism and using Twitter as a megaphone to harass and intimidate Jews,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.

The report comes amid growing concern about harassment on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as their roles in spreading fake news. Both companies are trying to curb hatred on their platforms while preserving principles of free speech and expression. Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to Washington to testify in front of Congress, in part out of concern over how the social network was used to spread propaganda during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has publicly made harassment on the social network a priority, even soliciting ideas for combatting the problem from the public. In March, Dorsey held a livestream to discuss how to deal with the issue. The company has made changes, such as prohibiting offensive account names or better enforcing its terms of service.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ADL report, evaluated tweets on subjects ranging from Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish slurs to positive references to anti-Semitic figures, books and podcasts. The ADL also tallied the use of coded words and symbols, such as the triple parenthesis, which is put around names to signal someone is Jewish.

The study used a dataset of roughly 55,000 tweets, which were screened by a team of researchers for indications of anti-Semitism. Since this is the first report if its kind from the group, there aren’t numbers to compare to data. Though, the ADL did release a report on the targeting of journalists during the 2016 election which also included Twitter data.

The ADL says that artificial intelligence and algorithms will eventually be effective at identifying hate online, but human input is needed to train such systems. For example, screeners can teach machines when anti-Semitic language might have been used to express opposition to such ideas or in an ironic manner.

Such issues aren’t simply hypothetical. The ADL pointed to the huge volume of tweets about anti-Semitism that were posted during the week of the Charlottesville, Virginia riots last summer. Though Twitter saw the highest volume of tweets about anti-Semitism for the year, only a small percentage were actually anti-Semitic.

The report noted the ADL works with Twitter on the issues of anti-Semitism and bigotry online. Greenblatt said the organization is “pleased that Twitter has already taken significant steps to respond to this challenge.”

Source: ADL tallies up roughly 4 million anti-Semitic tweets in 2017

ADL Says Anti-Semitism Is Rising. Students Disagree. – The Forward

Good nuanced analysis of the various campus antisemitism reports:

The Anti-Defamation League recently released the results of its annual anti-Semitism audit. The findings were staggering.

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged nearly 60% this past year, driven in part by an increase in such cases in schools and on college campuses. ADL found 1,986 cases of harassment, vandalism or physical assaults against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2017, up from 1,267 in 2016.

But these results conflict with those of other surveys. Two recent reports — one from the Research Group of the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford and one from the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis — found that, by and large, Jewish students do not feel threatened on campus.

This raises questions: Is anti-Semitism a perennial menace on American college and university campuses that increasingly threatens Jewish students around the country? Or is campus anti-Semitism a negligible issue that has been overhyped by overzealous Israel supporters?

The answer is, it’s anti-Semitism, but many younger Jews are reluctant to use the term in that context. And the less affiliated they are with organized Jewish life, the more that seems to be the case.

The Stanford report employed in-person interviews with 66 Jewish students on various California campuses who were either “unengaged or minimally engaged in organized Jewish life,” since these students “represent the vast majority of Jewish college students.” Most of them felt comfortable on their respective campuses, both in general and as Jews, and traced any discomfort they felt to the “strident, inflammatory, and divisive” tone of the campus discourse on Israel.

The Brandeis report grew out of a finding from a 2016 Steinhardt Institute study, which surveyed students on 50 campuses about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment and found wide variance between students’ experiences on different campuses.

The more recent Brandeis study focused on only four schools (Brandeis, Harvard, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania), and was distributed to both Jewish and non-Jewish respondents. The survey concluded that “the majority of Jewish and non-Jewish students… disagreed that their campus constituted a ‘hostile environment toward Jews.’” Some felt that there was a “hostile environment” toward Israel, but the majority did not agree.

Both of these studies seem to support the conclusion that campus anti-Semitism is a negligible phenomenon.

But this reading is oversimplified. One issue that affects both studies is the narrowness of the student populations surveyed. The Stanford report’s focus on unaffiliated students is particularly troubling, because removing Jewishly engaged students clearly skewed the findings. In fact, the two Brandeis studies as well as an earlier study from 2015 all agreed that those most strongly identified with the Jewish community and Israel are more likely to report hostility on campus. In other words, the Stanford study removed those most prone to experience — or, at least, to report — anti-Semitism.

The 2016 Brandeis report explained that this could be because those students are more likely to be targeted, or because they are more sensitive to the issue, or because students who experience anti-Israel sentiment might begin to feel more connected to the Jewish State, or some combination of all of these factors.

This does not mean that the Stanford survey is wrong; it merely emphasizes different data than other, earlier surveys and is thus more compelling if you feel that that campus animosity — at least when it is connected to Israel or Zionism — is not a serious issue, and less compelling if you disagree.

In other words, there’s data to reinforce your confirmation bias, whichever direction that might skew.

The focus on four randomly selected campuses in the 2017 Brandeis study also seems to indicate that campus anti-Semitism is not a serious problem. However, critics argue that four campuses are not a representative sample, and that the report merely amplifies a point from the earlier study: that there is wide variance from campus to campus in students’ perceptions of overall hostility toward Jews and Israel.

The 2016 Brandeis report found that some individual campuses and regions of the country are seen as more continually problematic on a year-to-year basis and referred to some campuses as relative “hotspots.” The report also found that one of the strongest predictors for perceiving a hostile climate toward Israel and Jews is “the presence of an active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group on campus.”

This finding is corroborated in the later Brandeis study. “The majority of Jewish and non-Jewish students at all four schools disagreed that their campus constituted a ‘hostile environment toward Jews,’” the study found. Students were more likely to agree that there was a hostile environment toward Israel on their campus than that there was a hostile environment toward Jews, but most students — except for those at Michigan — still disagreed that there was hostility to Israel.

Perhaps not coincidentally, in November 2017, one month before the study was released, the student government at University of Michigan passed a BDS resolution, its first successful BDS campaign after 11 previous attempts dating back to 2002.

Additionally, the students addressed in the Kelman study did not deny that there was a toxic discourse connected to Israel on their campus; they acknowledged the problem but assigned equal responsibility for the issue to both the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian camps, a natural response for those who are alienated and feel rebuffed by the political stances or tactics of both sides. They used words such as “unsafe,” “discomfort” and “threat” to describe some of their campus experiences and were concerned that their Jewishness allowed them to be stereotyped as holding certain views.

Despite these issues, students were reluctant to use the word “anti-Semitism.” The study explains that this shows the students’ “understanding of the difference between Israeli politics and Jewish people,” and this may ring true for those who agree with that distinction.

And yet, some of the behaviors that the students described witnessing, such as ascribing stereotypical “dual loyalty” to the Jewish people, or holding people who happen to be Jewish responsible for actions taken by others who are also Jewish (or Israeli), or the fear of losing social status because of support for Jewish issues (or Israel), are all classic examples of anti-Jewish animosity, regardless of the students’ reticence.

In other words, the unaffiliated students at these colleges are redefining what counts as anti-Semitism, choosing to rule out behaviors that older generations of Jews — like those who run ADL — see as anti-Semitic.

The Stanford report also refers to “exaggerated claims about the tone of campus activism and misrepresentations of student experience.” The researchers conclude, ”Such claims do far more harm than good by heightening tensions and reinforcing divisions.”

But imputing to all other studies emphasizing the presence of anti-Semitism on campus a common agenda or method is itself misleading and elides their significant differences. Moreover, despite greater emphasis on the presence of anti-Semitism, some of these other reports — including an ADL report in 2015 — also describe the daily experience of most Jewish students on American college and university campuses as largely comfortable, despite the presence of anti-Semitic incidents. The Stanford report’s conclusions are perhaps not entirely a revelation.

Research suggests that Jewish students, for the most part, feel comfortable on campus, but the story is more complex than the main findings publicized in recent surveys. It seems that there is only one issue these surveys clarify unambiguously: that we do not agree on a standard definition of anti-Semitism, and this makes assessing its overall impact on American campuses much more difficult.

via ADL Says Anti-Semitism Is Rising. Students Disagree. – The Forward

New [ADL] Study Shows Anti-Semitism Soared Last Year | The Huffington Post

Rise refers to what Canadian hate crime stats would classify as mischief, with violent forms declining. Still disturbing:

Harassment, vandalism and other hostile acts against Jewish people and sites in the U.S. increased by 34 percent last year and are up 86 percent through the first three months of 2017, according to data released on Monday.

A spate of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools, and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in the U.S. this year have contributed to the surge, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s report.

There have been more than 100 bomb threats against 75 Jewish community centers and eight Jewish day schools around the country this year through early March. Vandals have toppled headstones and inflicted other damage at Jewish graveyards in St. Louis, Philadelphia and other cities this year. A swastika made from feces besmirched an art school bathroom in Rhode Island.

“What the data tells us is incontrovertible and why the Jewish community describes such heightened anxiety,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told The Huffington Post. “There’s no doubt that there’s a high degree of anxiety.”

Greenblatt added that his organization’s report, which was released on Holocaust Remembrance Day, shows that public officials must do more to denounce anti-Semitism and find ways to make Jewish-Americans feel secure.

Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, Feb. 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated.

In all, the ADL documented 1,266 incidents in 2016 and 541 since the beginning of this year until March. That’s a sharp increase since 2013, when the ADL recorded 751 incidents, the fewest number since record keeping began in 1979, a spokesman said. For comparison, anti-Semitic incidents peaked in 1994 when there were more than 2,000 incidents reported for the first and only time.

The ADL’s analysis excluded most bigoted acts on social media. However, it included the harassment of Jewish residents in Whitefish, Montana, because the coordinated abuse rose above typical taunting and hate speech online, an ADL spokesman said. Supporters of alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer targeted town activists and Jewish residents after Spencer’s mother, a Whitefish business owner, said she was harassed because of her son’s politics.

While forms of harassment and vandalism have jumped since 2015, the ADL said that physical assaults fell 36 percent in 2016 and are down 40 percent this year.

Source: New Study Shows Anti-Semitism Soared Last Year | The Huffington Post

How School Administrators Are Dealing With Incidents Of Hate : NPR

Good article with number of telling examples, along with a description of an ADL program in action:

One of the gold standards in teaching tolerance is a program run by the Anti-Defamation League called “A World Of Difference.” The number of schools calling and asking for the program has jumped five-fold recently. Brookline High School reached out after being hit with two incidents of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. Administrators recruited 30 students to go through three full days of training — to learn to run tolerance workshops for their peers.

“Ok, folks! Showtime!” bellows the ADL’s New England Senior Training Consultant Rob Jones from the front of a gymnasium. His dreadlocks swinging out from under a felt fedora, Jones bounces around the circle of students, grilling them on what they’ve learned from the exercises they’ve done so far and getting them ready to be leaders instead of participants. They begin by practicing how they will introduce themselves to classmates when they run a workshop.

Rob Jones, a training consultant with the Anti-Defamation League, leads Brookline High School students in building a “web of unity.”  Tovia Smith /NPR

“My name is Josh Gladstone,” starts one. “I’m doing this program because I have seen many issues at the high school, and even though we attempt to have a couple of assemblies, I don’t think it’s enough.”

The students role-play and rehearse everything from ice-breakers to exercises meant to encourage empathy and bystander intervention. Jones coaches and corrects. “You don’t wanna preach,” he tells one. “You do not wanna come off as better than [them]… like you really need to help them. We’ve all laughed at jokes we shouldn’t have laughed at and made comments we shouldn’t have made. We’re all trying to learn together.”

After participating in tolerance workshops for two days, Maddie Kennedy (left), Josh Gladstone and Raven Bogues practice being presenters before they run the same workshops for their peers.  Tovia Smith /NPR

Indeed, even in their left-leaning “bubble” — as some Brookline students call it — they’ve seen an uptick in hate.

Junior Talia Vos, who moved to Brookline from Mexico, says she felt it the day after the election. She was in the hallway between classes and yelled out to a friend –- in Spanish — to save her a seat.

“A group of boys behind me, they started chanting, ‘build a wall!'” she recalls. “It’s just these new social norms of how we treat each other.”

After 30 years of doing this work, Rob Jones worries that many of the communities that need these programs the most are also in denial.

“Certain populations just won’t talk about it because they don’t get it — they don’t get it,” he says. “They’re like, ‘we don’t have any issues.’ But boy, they have a lot of bigoted behavior.”

Along with prevention, many schools these days are also quickly learning the art of “the healing response.”

In Brookline, after the hateful graffiti was found, students banded together to re-paint the table that was vandalized to “reclaim it from hate.” Other schools have called in professional facilitators to moderate a “community conversation.”

Following the KKK graffiti in Attleboro, dozens of students mobilized to counter the hate with kindness. They wrote “love notes” to each of the high school’s nearly 2000 students, staffers and teachers.

Source: How School Administrators Are Dealing With Incidents Of Hate : NPR Ed : NPR