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WASHINGTON (RNS): A Jewish group that tracks anti-Semitism has published its annual report of more than 1,200 incidents of assaults, vandalism and harassment against Jews in 2009, saying the level of incidents remained “sustained and troubling.”
“America is not immune to anti-Semitism, and 2009 was no different in this regard than in any other year,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, in a news release.
In total, ADL reported 29 incidents of physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 760 cases of anti-Semitic harassments and threats, and 422 reports of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2009.
This number of cases comes to about three incidents per day, said Deborah Lauter, the ADL’s director of civil rights, in an interview.
“Generally, these things are very underreported,” she said.
Most of the cases took place in states with large Jewish populations. The top four states included California (23 percent of total cases), New York (17 percent), New Jersey (10 percent), and Florida (7 percent).
The 2009 audit employed new methodology and evaluation criteria, the first makeover ADL has made in the more than three decades of reporting on the topic.
When analyzed using the old criteria, Lauter said that the 2009 numbers represent an approximate 10 percent increase in incidents from 2008.
Overall, however, there has been no general trend to the data. “It goes up and down year to year,” she said.
Part of the new method includes a more conservative approach to categorizing incidents. The swastika, for instance, “is no longer exclusively used as a hate symbol against Jews,” the ADL report said, so it is included only if accompanied with clearly anti-Jewish markings.
Also omitted from the report were the more than 2,000 anti-Semitic faxes sent to Jewish centers nationwide by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.
“These faxes caused great distress among recipients and, had they been counted, the 2009 Audit’s harassment totals would have significantly increased,” the ADL report said.
The report also doesn’t contain statistics on anti-Semitism in cyberspace. Although Lauter said there has been “an explosion” of anti-Semitic sites, postings and comments, ADL is “not yet capable of quantifying the amount.”
“We try to keep track of them, but it’s just a huge number of people reporting it.”
— Alfredo Garcia
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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