LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky reported more anti-Semitic incidents last year than any other year since the Anti-Defamation League began keeping track of it more than 40 years ago. This emerges from data the group released on Tuesday.
There were 19 anti-Semitic incidents in the state of Bluegrass last year, up from the two such incidents in 2019, which were above the state’s annual average of roughly four anti-Semitic incidents, according to the New York-based group.
“In 2020, Jews across Kentucky faced two runaway viruses – the coronavirus and the virus of hate,” said James Pasch, the regional director of the League’s Cleveland Regional Office, which serves both Kentucky and Ohio, West, Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. “Despite the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Semites still found ways to express their anti-Jewish hatred. In fact, the pandemic inspired new anti-Semitic ideas and tactics such as zoom-bombing and proved that bigots continue to be encouraged to respond to their hateful ideologies.
“This problem won’t go away if we don’t act now to curb anti-Jewish hatred in Kentucky and across the country.”
Pasch also told The Courier Journal that the rise in anti-Semitic incidents should affect all Americans because “if there is hatred of one minority, there is hatred of other minority groups,” such as those in black, Asian, American and Pacific Islander communities.
The numbers for 2020, added Pasch, are “not a total of the circumstances on site”.
“It’s a snapshot,” said Pasch. “And we don’t have to look at the statistics to know that we are headed in the wrong direction because we feel it in the environment.”
The Group’s 2020 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents covers both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including the dissemination of hate propaganda, threats and insults.
The group, which began tracking such incidents in 1979, is counting cases of individuals claiming to have been the direct target of anti-Semitic harassment online, including on social media.
The exam does not involve anti-Semitic rhetoric without a specific aim that the League’s Technology and Society Center pursues and exposes along with other forms of online hatred.
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The audit classifies incidents into three categories: harassment, vandalism and bodily harm.
Here is a breakdown of the incidents reported in Kentucky over the past year:
- 12 Harassment Cases: The Anti-Defamation League defines harassment as cases in which “Jews stated that they felt targeted or threatened by anti-Semitic language or actions”.
- Six Acts of Vandalism: The League defines vandalism as “cases in which property has been damaged in a way that harmed or intimidated Jews”. For comparison, no such incidents were reported in 2019.
- An attack:The league defines attacks as “cases in which people have been physically attacked with violence, accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus”. There was also one case of attack in 2019.
Of the 19 incidents recorded in Kentucky in 2020, 10 according to the League audit occurred in Louisville.
Four incidents occurred in Lexington. This year, 11 more incidents were reported in Louisville and seven in Lexington on the ADL HEAT Map.
Anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Louisville in June last year in which stickers of the anti-Semitic cartoon “Happy Merchant” read “It’s the Jews!” In the highlands. Were found.
Last April, virtual prayer services held through Zoom at a Louisville synagogue were interrupted by an unknown person sharing “anti-Semitic, pornographic and racist virtual content”.
Last March, a Holocaust educator in Louisville received an “anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial email,” according to the League.
And last February, a Jewish woman in Louisville discovered that someone had sprayed “Jew” on her trash cans.
Matthew Goldberg, the director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Louisville, said he was not surprised by the new data as he had reported anti-Semitic incidents to the league.
“It is still a system shock and depressing to see such a massive surge in Kentucky,” said Goldberg. “I really hope it’s a wake-up call for Kentucky that we have a real problem with hatred in the state and not just anti-Semitism.”
Other anti-Semitic incidents reported last year included a December attack in Lexington in which a driver yelling anti-Semitic blurring hit a member of the Chabad of the Bluegrass during a menorah lighting ceremony on the University of Kentucky campus.
The injured member, who helped light the menorah on the third night of Hanukkah, was hospitalized.
In October, a high school student in Murray was bullied by her peers who called her “Christkiller” and who, according to the league’s exam, said, among other things, “Heil Hitler”.
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The Anti-Defamation League said extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for six of the incidents last year, including several in Louisville.
In August, the group also reported that a white supremacist group called “14first” had been spreading propaganda in the city of Versailles, central Kentucky.
Another anti-Semitic incident was reported in northern Kentucky in July when a person in Hebron used a “derogatory reference to Jews during a business dispute,” the league said.
And in Elizabethtown last May, the Hundred Handers League, an “international supremacist white sticker maker,” handed out stickers that read, “If You Only Knew How Much Better Things Could Be,” ANTIFA said useful idiots to the global capitalism “. “Anti-Semitism Is Caused By Semitism” and “Did You Notice?”
The league’s Cleveland Regional Office saw anti-Semitic activity rise 114% over the past year. According to the organization, this is one of the highest increases in any region in the entire country.
There were 77 incidents in the area in 2020, the highest in the last decade, including 19 incidents in Kentucky, 43 in Ohio, four in West Virginia and 11 in West Pennsylvania.
The regional anti-Semitic incidents reflected national trends. The data showed a total of 2,024 incidents were reported in the country in 2020, a continuation of the “historically high level” of anti-Semitic cases.
That national number was a 4% decrease from an “all-time high” in 2019, but the audit found that 2020 was still the third highest year for incidents against American Jews.
Anti-Semitic incidents were reported in all states except Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The audit found an average of almost six anti-Semitic incidents per day in the United States over the past year.
Tuesday also marked the two-year anniversary of the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, in which one was killed and three injured.
“We are concerned about the increased level of anti-Semitism across the state,” said Regional Director Pasch. “For years we have urged elected officials, law enforcement agencies, educators, citizens and community members to do more against anti-Semitism, and there is no time to waste. As we’ve seen across the country, from the Tree of Life Synagogue to Poway to Monsey, too much is at stake to let anti-Jewish hatred in Kentucky go unchecked. “
To combat anti-Semitic hatred and behavior, ADL continues its work through “investigation, advocacy and education”.
ADL said it had reached over 40,000 students in the area through its No Place for Hate and A World of Difference Institute bias and bullying prevention programs, and trained hundreds of additional students and educators through its anti-Semitism and Holocaust education programs.
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The Cleveland Regional Office also launched a pro bono legal aid project, through which the organization connects victims of anti-Semitism with free civil litigation attorneys, and a Signature Synagogue Program through which the group works with synagogues to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of Hate.
In response to the rise in incidents, the group says elected officials and citizens “must use their bullying pulpits to speak out against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and extremism”.
Other policy recommendations include calling on the Kentucky General Assembly to “hold hearings on the high levels of hate crime, the rise of extremist groups and the spread of their propaganda, and to support laws that improve responses to hate crimes and domestic terror”.
That year lawmakers received some credit for passing a resolution that made Kentucky the first state to condemn anti-Semitism under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
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The group says Kentucky should also increase funding for nonprofit safety grants for synagogues and other places of worship, schools, and community centers.
School districts should also offer Holocaust education and bias and bullying prevention programs, the exam said, and university leaders should “respond decisively and vigorously to anti-Semitic acts on campus, including incidents targeting Jewish students, because they actually or perceive support it. ” State of Israel. “
Finally, the group says lawmakers “should support efforts to provide law enforcement officers with the tools and training they need to prevent and respond to hate crimes effectively,” and that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies ” should also improve their response processes and report hate crimes. “
Reach Billy Kobin at [email protected].