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April 10, 2015  RSS feed
World News

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ADL Audit: Slight rise in Florida anti-Semitic incidents

During a protest in Miami, a young demonstrator holds sign saying ‘F*ck Jews,’ ‘Long Live Gaza,’ ‘Long Live Hamas.’” During a protest in Miami, a young demonstrator holds sign saying ‘F*ck Jews,’ ‘Long Live Gaza,’ ‘Long Live Hamas.’” According to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) newly released annual “audit of anti-semitic incidents,” there were 70 incidents of anti-Semitism in Florida in 2014, marking a slight increase from 68 anti-Semitic incidents captured in ADL’s Audit in 2013.

Included in the 70 incidents were five from the Tampa Bay area, though the ADL only gave specific information about one – the vandalism in August of a storage shed behind Clearwater Bagels. Jewish owner of the store, Brian Morris, found swastikas and anti- Semitic slurs painted on property and walls inside the shed. There were also two incidents in Hillsborough County and one each in Polk and Manatee counties.

Florida’s increase in anti-Semitic incidents corresponds with an upward trend across the country, but it is slight compared with a 21 percent upsurge nationwide.

“Although there were only two additional incidents reported in Florida than the previous year, it is troubling that after decades of decreasing numbers of anti-Semitic incidents, we have now seen a troubling rise in Florida, nationwide and globally,” stated Hava L. Holzhauer, Florida Regional Director. She added, “In a year marked by violent acts against Jews and Jewish institutions, we are reminded that anti-Semitism continues to pose a vital threat to our and other democratic societies.”

Florida continues to be in the top four states reporting incidents of anti-Semitism, with New York, California, and New Jersey reporting higher incidents. The annual audit comprises criminal and non-criminal incidents reported to the ADL Florida office and law enforcement, including incidents of vandalism, assault, and harassment targeting Jewish individuals and institutions.

The breakdown of incidents in Florida in 2014 includes:

• Harassment, threats and events: 50 incidents in 2014, compared with 55 in 2013.

• Vandalism: 19 incidents in 2014, compared with 13 in 2013.

• Assaults: 1 incident in 2014, compared with none in 2013.

Similar to prior audits, the majority of reported Florida incidents occurred in the southern part of the state, including: 21 incidents in Miami-Dade County, 19 incidents in Palm Beach County, and 11 incidents in Broward County.

Nationally, the 2014 audit reported 912 anti-Semitic incidents, significantly higher than the 751 incidents in 2013, but still lower than the 927 incidents reported in 2012. Of those, the most serious incidents – anti-Semitic assaults on Jews or those perceived as Jewish – rose from 31 in 2013 to 36 in 2014.

Gaza conflict

A disturbing trend emerged over the summer of 2014 with an increase in anti-Semitic activity directly related to Operation Protective Edge. During this time, Jewish individuals and institutions were the victims of particularly high levels of harassment and vandalism relating to events in the Middle East.

The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic incidents linked to the Gaza Conflict in Florida:

• Boca Raton: A doctor asked if his patient was Jewish. She answered yes. The doctor responded by saying that the Jews “killed Jesus” and that the current events in Israel were the result of the Jews killing Jesus. (July)

• North Miami Beach: A synagogue was spraypainted with swastikas and the word “Hamas” on its front entrance. (July)

• Palm Beach Gardens: When a Jewish man inquired about a private sale of a boat, he was asked if his name was Jewish. He said yes. The seller replied, “I will not allow the blood stained hands of a Zionist to touch the wheel of my boat. Your people are slaughtering men, women, and children throughout the world in the name of peace.” (July)

• Miami Beach: A family wakes up to discover their cars in their driveway egged and smeared with cream cheese spelling the words “Jew” and “Hamas.” (July)

• Miami: During a protest against Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a young demonstrator holds sign saying “Long Live Gaza,” “Long Live Hamas,” “F*ck Jews.” (July)

Anti-Semitic vandalism

The following is a list of selected instances of anti- Semitic vandalism within the state in 2014:

• Deltona: A teenager’s car had a bumper sticker with Israeli and American flags scratched off. The word “Jew” was carved into the side of the car and two tires were slashed. (June)

• Miami Beach: While on vacation, an apartment of a Jewish family was vandalized with swastikas and Stars of David following a robbery. (October.)

Harassment, threats and events

The ADL audit recorded 50 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in Florida in 2014, down from 55 cases in 2013. 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. The following is a list of selected instances of anti-Semitic harassment in 2014:

• Boca Raton: A Jewish woman walking her dog in the neighborhood with no sidewalks advised a young driver to slow down. The driver stopped the car, walked back to where she was and yelled at her “I do not need this s**t today from you, you dirty Jew b**ch.” (May)

• The Villages: A bellman at the hotel in the Villages, while having dinner at work, was told by his immediate supervisor “you are a kike.” (November)

• Delray Beach: Jewish employees at a private business were constantly being referred to as “Jew Bags” by another employee. (July)

Anti-Semitic incidents on campus

The ADL audit reported two incidents on college campuses around the state in 2014, a decrease from previous years.

The incidents were:

• Orlando: A University of Central Florida student finds swastikas carved in the walls of the apartment complex where she resides (April)

• Gainesville: A University of Florida student resident had his mezuzah forcibly removed. Days later, once the mezuzah was replaced, the vandals came back and tried to remove it again. Upon discovering the student was inside the apartment they yelled at him “Jew go out,” “are you scared,” all the while trying to force the door open. (November)

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 assault, threats of violence, and verbal and written taunts promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes or evoking disturbing Holocaust themes.

Florida incidents in 2014 that represent anti-Semitic bullying of children, adolescents and teenagers by their peers included:

• Ponte Vedra: Middle school student experienced on-going harassment at school and on the school bus from another student with remarks such as “Hitler had it right,” and “shove a yarmulke up your ass.” This same student was photographed holding a switchblade with a swastika, and the words Blood and Honor written on it. This photo, posted on Instagram, was tagged “Jew purge #thenewholocaust.” (September)

• Boca Raton: During a soccer varsity game with a Jewish Day school, a player from the opposing team taunted the Jewish players with jokes about the Holocaust, and remarked “did your grandfather die in the furnace”, and “they should have burned all of you.” (November)

Rise on Hackings of Jewish Institutions

The ADL National audit reported an uptick of online attacks by foreign hackers targeting the websites of Jewish institutions and synagogues.

In Florida, one instance of such an attack on the website of a synagogue in Plantation was reported.

• Plantation: As Jews were celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, a hacker group calling itself “Team System Dz” attacked a temple website, redirecting visitors to a page with messages expressing support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. (October)

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

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