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.

DOMINICK REUTER VIA GETTY IMAGES
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

ADL and Wiesenthal Center don’t seem to agree on anti-Semitism in America | Bloggish | Jewish Journal

Interesting contrast (ADL’s approach the more reasonable one):

Shortly before the New Year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, both human rights organizations dedicated to fighting hate speech, each put out the top 10 list of anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 (the Wiesenthal Center’s list also included anti-Israel incidents – more on this below).

The two lists are starkly different, and that difference is worth paying attention to.

Numbers one through four on the ADL list are all related to the election, apparently arising from the Donald Trump moment and the new life it gave to the seedier elements of American xenophobia.

On the Wiesenthal Center list, this type of anti-Semitism is featured just once, coming in at number five with Richard Spencer’s memorable tryst at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. Number one on this list is the failure of the Obama administration to veto a recent United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The difference is notable because in theory, it shouldn’t exist. These two organizations are not identical, to be sure. The Wiesenthal Center is Los Angeles-based, for one, and incorporates Holocaust memory to a greater extent in its mission.

But both have at their core the same goal of fighting anti-Semitism. The overlap is great enough to cause some amount of institutional rivalry.

“ADL is always a little bit worried that the center in L.A., the Wiesenthal Center, will steal its thunder,” Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University told me in November. “So they always have kind of one eye on the Wiesenthal Center.”

Why, then, do two organizations with the same ideals come to vastly different conclusions about where to look for the most troubling incidents of anti-Semitism?

I brought this question up during a recent interview with Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Wiesenthal Center. He pointed out to me that the lists were in fact not the same and that his organization, unlike the ADL, had included “anti-Israel incidents” as a criterion. That’s why the U.N. resolution ended up at the top of the Wiesenthal Center list without appearing at all on the ADL list.

Fine. But that doesn’t explain the massive discrepancy between, on the one hand, nearly half of a top 10 list being dedicated to right-wing anti-Semitism, and, on the other, a single item buried halfway down.

It’s easy to chalk this up to politics. Critics of Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL CEO, like to point out that he came to the job from a post in the Obama administration. In their mind, he’s a left-wing actor that has turned the ADL into a basically partisan operation.

But I take Greenblatt at his word when he told me that during the campaign trail “I said what I said and we did what we did because it was consistent with ADL’s historic role.”

Greenblatt, it seems to me, is too smart to nakedly put his politics on display. If he really were a leftist shill, he’d probably be smarter about hiding it, anyway. I’m guessing – and we can only guess as to people’s intentions – that both lists reflects a real concern about where anti-Semitism exists in America today.

The net result is that we have two lists that tell us more about the organizations that generated them than they do about anti-Semitism.

Source: ADL and Wiesenthal Center don’t seem to agree on anti-Semitism in America | Bloggish | Jewish Journal

Didn’t Slam Anti-Semitism On the Left? Don’t Expect Credibility When You Slam It On the Right: Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt, the Holocaust scholar and subject of the film Denial, about her libel trial with Holocaust denier David Irving, expresses it well:

For American Jews, particularly those aligned with the new administration, to remain silent is to send a signal that anti-Semitism and racism can be tolerated — and injected into the heart of American politics. Expediency, or tactical thinking, can have its place. But in this case, it is completely trumped by the need for honesty — and a bit of backbone.

The established leadership (with the exception of ADL) failed this first test regarding the Trump administration. Only after an outcry from many quarters — including from the editor of this publication — did they begin to issue somewhat lukewarm condemnations.

Yet it’s not only anti-Semitism from the right, but also anti-Semitism from the left, that should have been met with steel, not mush. The protesters from the left end of the political spectrum have also failed a test. Let’s hope they’ll do some soul-searching, too. Sadly, given the tenor of recent events, Jewish organizations from all ends of the political spectrum will probably have other opportunities to stand up. Let’s hope they do. Far more than just their already wounded credibility is at stake.

Source: Didn’t Slam Anti-Semitism On the Left? Don’t Expect Credibility When You Slam It On the Right. – Opinion – Forward.com

Groups fighting hate, anti-Semitism see surge of support

Not necessarily surprising but certainly encouraging:

In the wake of the election, the Anti-Defamation League — the national organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms — is wasting no time in accelerating its efforts against hate in America.

The climate at the organization’s offices post-election is characterized by “exhaustion and energy,” Deborah Lauter, ADL’s senior vice president for policy and programs, told CBS News.

“There’s more of a sense of urgency, more of a sense that we’re more relevant than ever before,” Lauter said. “The day after, when people were shocked by the result personally, they said, ‘Thank God I work here because at least I can get hugs from my colleagues.’”

The organization — which conducts large-scale research on hate groups, including the alt-right; partners with law enforcement to better deal with hate crimes; and cultivates public awareness of hate and bigotry, among other campaigns — has seen an explosion in financial contributions and volunteer interest since Donald Trump’s election. The president-elect won the White House after conducting a campaign critics accused of trafficking in racist and anti-Semitic stereotypes. At various points, Trump called Mexicans “murderers” and “rapists;” suggested an American-born federal judge could not do his job impartially because of his Mexican heritage; advocated “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming to the U.S.; and used imagery lifted from white supremacists and Neo-Nazi online message boards.

It was an election that “saw hate move from the fringes and into the mainstream with unprecedented volume and velocity,” the ADL said in a statement after Donald Trump’s win.

The ADL joins other prominent nonprofit organizations — like the American Civil Liberties Union, the investigative journalism site ProPublica, and Planned Parenthood — who’ve seen dramatic spikes in donations since the election.

Contributions to the ADL jumped 50-fold the day after the election, and that level of giving has persisted throughout last week and this week, the group said. About 70 percent of those donations came from first-time donors. Several major donors are also upping their contributions in light of the election, some to six figures.

In addition, the group’s 27 regional offices have seen significantly higher call volume — 10 to 20 times what they’d normally receive — from people asking how they could support the organization’s work combating bigotry, the ADL said.

“We have seen so many instances where we fear and are concerned about the fact that the extremists’ rhetoric has become mainstream,” Lauter said. “The feeling is one of being disheartened at how easily this can happen. But [we’re] also somewhat energized at how important this work is to rebuild what we thought was the status quo of tolerance in this country.”

Source: Groups fighting hate, anti-Semitism see surge of support – CBS News

When The ADL Promotes Anti-Semitism | The Daily Caller

Over reach:

Earlier this week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) added the cartoon character and internet meme Pepe the Frog to its “Hate On Display” database, saying it promoted “anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas.” The announcement gained major media coverage, from The New York Times to The Washington Post to TIME Magazine.

But the symbol was previously unknown to the vast majority of Americans, largely limited to the youthful-skewing hardcore followers of Internet message boards.

Thanks to the ADL, though, all of America’s anti-Semites have a new, cuddly mascot to use in their attacks on Jews.

Last year, the decade-old amphibian was one of the most popular symbols on the social networking site Tumblr. Pepe the Frog has been associated with bigotry for less than a year, as the “alt-right” gained strength during the presidential election. Those who present Pepe as anti-Semitic generally hide behind anonymous names like mashr445, and it can be impossible to tell if they are junior high school girls, an automatic computer program, or even disgruntled Jews. When anti-Semites use their own names, then I get nervous.

 Since historically the character has only rarely represented hateful ideas, the ADL’s categorization is like calling white sheets racist. Yes, the KKK has used white sheets to terrorize blacks and when they do, it’s terrible. But white sheets themselves are hardly a hate symbol. Yet the ADL also lists (I’m not kidding) the numbers 12, 13, 14, 18, 28, 38, 43, 83, and 88 as hate symbols. (Watch out for those bigoted pianos with their 88 keys.)

What’s the upside here for the ADL? What does it think it’s achieving by disseminating information about bigoted use of a cartoon character by a fringe segment of American society? How are their press releases and databases going to save a single Jew from being harassed, fired, or assaulted for his faith?

They won’t. But they will raise money for the ADL.

The organization’s very raison d’être is fighting anti-Semitism, so they can’t continue to replicate themselves without a perception of widespread – and growing – prejudice against Jews. That’s why their 2014 survey of global anti-Semitism was designed to encourage anti-Semitic answers  and even beliefs among respondents. It’s why the organization will try to squelch any dialogue or artistic expression that doesn’t meet its checklist of approved modes of discourse about Jews, Israel, race, sexual orientation, and more.

But this time they’ve gone too far. In order to get its name in the papers, the ADL is aiding and abetting America’s Jew-haters in a concrete way by handing them Joe the Camel of anti-Semitism on a silver platter. The swastika is so darned angular and abstract, whereas Pepe the Frog would make for good temporary tattoos, stuffed animals, or trading cards.

The Pepe episode is a great example of how reckless “educational efforts” by anti-tolerance organizations can be counter-productive. I remember a shocking display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles that invited participants to match the hate slur to the group being targeted, including some fairly obscure ones. I literally added new spiteful terms for Asians and lesbians to my lexicon. Why is that a good thing?

In an almost certain parody of that exhibit, the 2002 South Park episode “The Death Camp of Tolerance” has the boys visit the Museum of Tolerance and walk through the “Tunnel of Prejudice,” in which voices shout things like “Queer” and “Chink” and “Heeb.”

Most of the fourth-graders are understandably startled by the put-downs – save crudely bigoted Cartman, who calls the exhibit “awesome,” and hops up and down: “I want to ride again! I want to ride again!”

No matter how lucrative, publicizing new ways to persecute Jews is rarely a good idea. The ADL should have plenty to do coping with the anti-Semitism that already exists in the broader society without taking a minor phenomenon and making it mainstream.

Source: When The ADL Promotes Anti-Semitism | The Daily Caller