NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged by 57 percent last year, according to a tally by the Anti-Defamation League, an increase the advocacy group’s chief executive blamed in part on President Donald Trump.
The group’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents counted 1,986 such incidents last year, including physical assaults, vandalism and attacks on Jewish institutions, up from 1,267 incidents in 2016, making it the largest single-year increase on record.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that Trump bore some responsibility for the increase for not condemning events like last summer’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as scattered incidences of bomb threats, cemetery desecration and school bullying.
“Some of his tweets and rhetoric have emboldened and given encouragement to the worst segments of society, anti-Semites and bigots,” Greenblatt said in a phone interview. “The president’s comments on the rally, saying there were good people on both sides, was a low point under his leadership and during his presidency.”
A White House representative did not respond to a request for comment.
During a news conference in February 2017, Trump referred to himself as the “least anti-Semitic person that you’ve seen in your entire life,” adding that he was also the least racist person. He has often noted that he has a Jewish daughter, grandchildren and employees.
According to the ADL’s report, there were 1,015 incidents of harassment, where bomb threats against Jewish institutions increased by 41 percent and incidents of vandalism increased by 86 percent. The group also said that incidents of physical assault dropped by nearly half from 2016.
Overall, the report found the second-highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since the ADL started tracking them in 1979. The highest number was reported in 1994, when the ADL reported multiple unsolved arsons, cross burnings and a drive-by shooting.
Incidents were reported in all 50 states for the first time in at least a decade, according to the ADL’s report.
The group is not the only one to find an increase in biased behaviour. In its most recent report, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported that the number of hate crimes directed against Muslims in the United States rose 91 percent in the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.
Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis