With multiple lockdowns and restrictions in place throughout the pandemic-ridden year, 2020, with its slight decline in antisemitic incidents, still managed to stand at the third-highest mark according to the ADL audit on Antisemitism.
The report, released on Tuesday by the American Defamation League revealed a total of 2,024 anti-Semitic incidents in 2020 nationwide—an average of five incidents a day—down from 2,107 in 2019 (which isn’t much of a decline). According to the report New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California—accounted for nearly 57 percent of all incidents or more than 1,100 acts of Jew-hatred. Only 10 states reported five or fewer anti-Semitic incidents in 2020; among them were Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming, which reported no incidents at all.
As it stands, there were speculations that 2020 would overtake previous years in the amount of antisemitic incidents, considering the fact that January and February accounted for around 440 incidents alone. The number of incidents plummeted in March when nationwide coronavirus lockdowns kept people at home resulting in instances somewhat being under control.
During a Zoom presentation of the audit’s findings, Rachel Grinspan, director of community affairs for ADL’s NY/NJ Region said, “Each one of these occurrences are not just statistics, they have people behind them. These acts affect individuals, congregations and communities.”
According to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, “The pandemic didn’t stop hate, it merely ‘reshaped’ it.” Greenblatt reported a “stunning,” 40 percent increase in Zoombombing with 196 incidents, 114 of which, the report said, “directly targeted religious, educational or cultural webinars conducted by Jewish institutions, including synagogues and schools.” Zoombombing is a term used to describe the hacking or “hijacking” of an online program, and in the case of anti-Semitic incidents, it meant white supremacists or others hacking a Jewish site and replacing the content with anti-Semitic images, words or pictures.
This year’s audit also found that incidents of harassment rose 10 percent in 2020, accounting for 1,242 of the total anti-Semitic incidents; while the number of assaults was down some 50 percent. And unlike in 2019, when several Jews were killed in anti-Semitic attacks, no Jews were killed in 2020, the first time since 2017.