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April 11, 2014  RSS feed
World News

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ADL: Anti-Semitic incidents in Florida follow national trend, decline in 2013

Nazi flag with a swastika in a dorm room window in Lakeland Nazi flag with a swastika in a dorm room window in Lakeland The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) annual Audit of Anti- Semitic Incidents released April 9, reveals there were 68 incidents of anti-Semitism in Florida in 2013, marking a 23 percent decrease in incidents from the year before.

Among the incidents in the Tampa Bay area were the display of a Nazi flag in a dorm room window in Lakeland on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. a swastika carved in fresh concrete on the sidewalk in front of the home of a Jewish family in Clearwater, and a hateful message left in the front yard of a Jewish family’ home in Tampa.

The drop in anti-Semitic incidents in Florida for the fourth consecutive year coincides with the decade-long decline in anti- Semitic incidents nationwide, reaching one of the lowest levels of incidents reported by ADL since the audit was established in 1979. The 2013 Audit reported 751 anti- Semitic incidents in the United States, a 19 percent drop from the 927 incidents reported in 2012.

A flier for a program, “Palestinian Nakba: Holy Land Holocaust,” at the University of South Florida. A flier for a program, “Palestinian Nakba: Holy Land Holocaust,” at the University of South Florida. “This latest snapshot of anti- Semitism in Florida reflects the positive progress being made in society, and the greater acceptance that the Jewish community has found,” said Hava Holzhauer, ADL Florida regional director. “While we are encouraged by the decline in the total number of anti-Semitic incidents, we are once again reminded that anti- Semitism still exists. Jews are still harassed. Jewish institutions are still vandalized. We will continue to do our part in eradicating anti- Jewish bigotry through education and public awareness campaigns.”

The annual ADL audit includes incidents of assault, vandalism, and harassment targeting Jews and Jewish property and institutions, and includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents reported to ADL’s Florida office and to law enforcement.

The breakdown of incidents in Florida in 2013 includes:

• Harassment, threats and events: 55 incidents in 2013, compared with 68 in 2012.

• Vandalism: 13 incidents in 2013, compared with 22 in 2012.

In contrast with ADL’s national audit, which exposed a rise in violent anti-Semitic assaults, ADL’s Florida Audit revealed that no physical assaults against Jews were reported to ADL in 2013. Nationally, the audit recorded a total of 31 anti-Semitic assaults on Jewish individuals or those perceived as Jewish in 2013, up from 17 in 2012.

Holocaust/Nazi imagery

Of particular note is an emerging trend uncovered by ADL’s Florida audit: nearly one third of anti-Semitic incidents in Florida last year evoked Holocaust or Nazi imagery – a total of 24 reported incidents.

“It is disheartening that a portion of anti-Semitic incidents, which are already so hurtful, stooped to the level of using inappropriate Nazi and/or Hitler imagery thereby trivializing the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” said Scott Notowitz, ADL Florida regional chair. “As ADL continues to safeguard the Jewish community from anti-Semitism, we also continue to work on a parallel track through the provision of much needed Holocaust education.”

The following is a list of some of the instances of anti-Semitic incidents that evoked Holocaust/ Nazi imagery:

Clearwater: A swastika was carved into fresh concrete of a sidewalk in front of a Jewish family’s home. (March)

• Fort Myers: Vandals scrawled large swastikas and the infamous SS bolts on a residential street. (July)

• Palmetto Bay: Fliers with images of uniformed Nazi soldiers and swastikas were leafleted by a white supremacist group in the Mangowood neighborhood. (October)

• Coconut Creek: A Jewish teenager working at a restaurant was harassed by his employer and other staff through anti-Semitic messages and images drawn on the restaurant’s white board, including a swastika, and anti-Semitic comments. (May)

• Deerfield Beach: Swastikas, “white power,” and the word “Jew” were painted on a visible overpass in a busy area. (February)

State/county incidents

Florida continues to rank fourth nationwide with the highest amount of reported anti-Semitic incidents, following three other states with large Jewish populations: California, New York and New Jersey.

From a countywide perspective in Florida, a drop in incidents occurred in each county where incidents were previously reported in 2012, except for Hillsborough County where the total number of incidents remained the same over the last two years.

In West Central Florida, there were three incidents in 2012 and 2013 in Hillsborough County, while in Pinellas County the number of incidents dropped from 7 in 2012 to 2 in 2013. In Pasco, Polk and Manatee Sarasota counties there were no incidents in 2012. In 2013 there was one in Pasco,two in Polk, two in Sarasota and none in Manatee.

Anti-Jewish vandalism

The ADL audit recorded 13 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2013, down from 22 in 2012. Vandalism incidents are individually evaluated by ADL and are categorized as anti-Semitic based on the presence of anti-Semitic symbols or language; the identity of the perpetrator(s), if known; and the target of the vandalism and its proximity to Jewish homes, communities and institutions. The 2013 audit includes in its totals swastikas that targeted Jewish property or communal institutions. Among the incidents were the theft of a 9-foot menorah from a rabbi’s yard in Boca Raton and a large ham was tossed as the entrance of the Keys Jewish Community Center in Tavernier Key.

Harassment, threats and events

The audit recorded 55 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in 2013, down from 68 in 2012. Incidents included verbal attacks and slurs against Jewish individuals (or individuals perceived to be Jewish); anti-Semitism conveyed in written or electronic communications, including anti-Semitic cyberbullying; and anti-Semitic speeches, picketing or events.

Among those incidents were:

Tampa: Upon moving to a new neighborhood, a Jewish resident found a rolled up note in their front yard that said, “Jesus hates Jews. There are no Jews in heaven.” (October)

• Palm Beach County: A vicious anti-Semitic voicemail, in which an individual stated he would have gladly used gas chambers during the Holocaust to “kill you God damn greedy ass Jews. I hate you Jews so bad,” was left on the answering machine of a major Jewish organization. (September)

• Broward County: The website of a prominent Jewish organization was shut down for being Jewish by a Syrian hacking group. (March)

• Boca Raton: A man was taken into custody after repeatedly threatening a Jewish family with anti-Semitic rants. (September)

•Boca Raton: Dozens of KKK stickers were plastered all over stop signs and other places in a neighborhood. (November)

Anti-Semitic incidents on campus

The audit lists five incidents on college campuses in 2013, the same number of incidents reported in 2012.

Some of the incidents recorded last year are:

Tampa: Students for Justice in Palestine hosted an event called, “Palestinian Nakba: Holy Land Holocaust.” (May)

Lakeland: A student displayed a giant Nazi flag with an image of the swastika from a dorm room window on the night of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht when a wave of violence attacked Jews in Germany and Poland in 1938. (November)

• Orlando: A Jewish student on the campus Senate Board was asked during a meeting: “Where is your yellow star … why aren’t you wearing one?” The offender explained that without the student and their friends wearing the Jewish yellow star on their shirts, it would be hard to point them out. (October)

• Gainesville: A protestor in front of the Florida Loves Israel conference held a sign declaring “What’s the difference between chosen people and master race?” (April)

With nearly 40,000 Jewish students enrolled in Florida’s college campuses, ADL prepares college students in Florida with a broad range of preventive and reactive programs and resources to address the challenges of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity on campus.

Earlier this month, ADL was co-sponsor of the Future Leaders for Israel (FLI) student conference at Florida Atlantic University to promote pro-Israel advocacy on Florida college campuses, and help students identify and navigate responses for incidents of legitimate anti-Israel expressions that cross the line into overt and offensive anti-Semitism. During the conference, ADL presented its newly launched interactive education program in Florida called “Words to Action: Empowering Jewish Students to Address Bias on Campus.”

Anti-Semitic bullying

ADL continues to receive a troubling number of complaints about children, adolescents and teenagers engaging in anti-Semitic behavior, both on and off school grounds. These incidents include physical assaults, threats of violence, and verbal and written taunts promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes or evoking disturbing Holocaust themes.

Among the incidents reported were:

• Miami-Dade County: An elementary school student was bullied by another student who said things such as “I am going to kick your white Jewish a--,” and “I love Hitler … too bad he didn’t get to kill all the Jews.” (January)

• Hollywood: During a parental meeting for a children’s soccer team, one dad said, “The damn Jews need to go f--k themselves with their religion!” (October)

• Vero Beach: A middle school student was taunted by other students when called a f--cking Jew and other names. (April)

Internet hate

General anti-Jewish expressions on the Internet, while possibly playing a role in fomenting real-world anti-Semitism, are not counted for the purposes of the audit unless they target a specific individual.

The daunting number of online anti-Semitic events and expressions that appear on countless and fluid websites and social media outlets are virtually impossible to quantify. However, ADL does receive and address reports from community members who have seen anti-Semitic content online. In addition, when a Jewish individual is targeted personally in an online forum and feels threatened, such an incident would be included in the audit.

About the audit

The audit identifies both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the audit provides an annual snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

For more information, follow ADL on Twitter: @ADL_ Florida or these websites:

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