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Anti-Defamation League Report Shows Anti-Semitic Incidents Rose From 2016 To 2017


Every year, the Anti-Defamation League measures the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., from swastikas on school walls to bullying, harassment, assaults and bomb threats. For the second year in a row, the group has charted a dramatic increase in such incidents. Jonathan Greenblatt heads the ADL. When we spoke earlier, he described where the group has seen the biggest jumps.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT: We've seen a particular spike in educational environments - a nearly 94 percent increase in K-12 schools and an 89 percent increase of acts on university or college campuses. Those numbers are staggering. Certainly, when it comes to kids, they repeat what they hear. So as we see a decrease in civility and an increase in intolerance, no one should be surprised that that is infecting the environment where our children learn.

SHAPIRO: Do you think that's about politics in America right now?

GREENBLATT: Yes. We are foolish to think you can keep this to kind of a cable talk news show or a late-night radio - talk radio program and that it won't seep out into the kind of center of society. That is exactly what is happening, and it should disturb all of us.

SHAPIRO: You have not mentioned President Trump. Many other observers have. He has pointed out that his daughter converted to Judaism. His grandchildren are Jewish. When people attribute anti-Semitic acts to somehow dissenting from the tone that he sets, he says how could I be responsible for this? My closest relatives are Jewish.

GREENBLATT: Well, look, I think it is fair to say that there's a confluence of factors here. Extremists feel emboldened in this environment. Social media has spawned a kind of hostility we've never seen before. And yet, at the same time, one simply cannot ignore the fact that anti-Semitic incidents have gone up in the past year of his administration by 57 percent and, frankly, in the prior year during his candidacy, 35 percent.

SHAPIRO: Will you explain how these incidents come to the Anti-Defamation League's attention?

GREENBLATT: The Anti-Defamation League has 26 field offices across the United States. We have investigative researchers and staff who receive calls when a child is harassed at school, when someone's personal property or a public institution is vandalized, when an individual is victimized in an assault. That call may come in from law enforcement. It may come in from a victim. It may come in from a Good Samaritan. And we investigate. So the incidents that we track are incidents which we have verified. They are credible, and they are real.

SHAPIRO: Is it possible that people are paying more attention and more likely to report these incidents and that actually the increase is not as dramatic as the report makes it seem?

GREENBLATT: Well, I think it is safe to say that in an environment where everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, it is easier to report on an incident than before. And, frankly, there is likely a higher degree of awareness. But improved reporting and increased awareness simply cannot account for the kind of spike that we've seen. The ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents literally since the 1970s. And I can tell you since we've been doing these kinds of audits, we've simply never seen anything like this.

SHAPIRO: Jonathan Greenblatt, thank you so much.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: He's the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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