WA saw a record number of antisemitic incidents in 2022

A report from the Anti-Defamation League noted 65 instances in Washington and a 36% increase nationwide.

A yarmulke on a man’s head, featuring a Star of David and the words ‘stronger than hate’

Kris Kepler, of Pittsburgh, attends a commemoration ceremony, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Schenley Park in memory of the 11 worshippers killed four years earlier when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Three of the past five years have seen the annual number of reported antisemitic incidents break records. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (AP)

Documented incidents of antisemitism are hitting record numbers in Washington, Oregon and in the United States broadly, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.

Released this week, the organization’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents documented 3,697 recorded instances of harassment, vandalism and assaults against people throughout the country in 2022. That’s a 36% rise from the previous year, according to the report. That figure marks the third year in the past five with a record-breaking year-end total, according to the nonprofit organization, which was formed in 1913 and fights antisemitism and bias.

The report also shows a record-breaking year for Washington state: The 65 incidents reported last year, including a bomb threat at a Jewish school in Seattle, were the most since the ADL began keeping numbers in 1979.

The state total included instances in which individuals were targeted with assault and harassment, and incidents intentionally targeting Jewish institutions such as synagogues, community centers and preschools, according to a news release issued by the ADL, with the effect of “sending a ripple effect of fear across the community.”

Meanwhile, Oregon notched a record 40 antisemitic incidents last year, and the remaining states in the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho and Montana – also saw increases.

“In 2022, Jewish communities across the Pacific Northwest continued to experience unacceptably high levels of antisemitism, including vandalism, harassment, and targeting by individuals and right-wing extremists at their homes, neighborhoods, and communities,” Miri Cypers, a regional director for ADL, said in a statement. “Acts of antisemitism and hate don’t simply impact a victim, they are meant to send shockwaves into the public and instill fear into marginalized communities.”

The Pacific Northwest has long been a haven of white nationalists and other forms of extremism, and the region likewise has a long history of activists fighting against those elements.

While the report does not attribute last year’s increase in antisemitic incidents to any single ideology or cause, an associate regional director for the ADL said there have been more organized efforts by groups.

"The biggest single source for the increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022 was the activity of organized right-wing extremist and white supremacist groups, who were responsible for 945 incidents,” said Stephen Paolini, who works for the ADL’s Pacific Northwest office in Seattle. “This is almost double the 484 incidents that these groups were responsible for in 2021. The vast majority [90%] of this white supremacist activity took the form of propaganda distributions, with 852 incidents perpetrated by groups like GDL, White Lives Matter, Folksfront, and others."

In a statement, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle called the new report "shocking, but not surprising."

"It’s an alarming trend that has been building for the past seven years," according to the statement from the Federation, which helps represent the Jewish community in Puget Sound. "More people believe in antisemitic tropes. More hold antisemitic attitudes. Anti-Jewish speech by high-profile individuals spreads on social media, incites hatred, spreads fear, and elevates antisemitism from the social fringe to the cultural mainstream."

Asked about the report in a regularly scheduled news conference, Gov. Jay Inslee called the findings "super-disturbing to us, because this has been a multicentury virus of hate."

He added: "All of us need to speak out against it as much as we can."

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