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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


July 15, 2016  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Anti-Semitic incidents on rise in nation, Florida

An Orlando area home that was vandalized An Orlando area home that was vandalized When a couple were nominated for the positions of president and secretary of their condominium association in St. Petersburg, and won the positions in a board election, an outgoing association leader was incensed.

In front of numerous individuals and association members said, the man said, “I will get rid of the f?*cking Jews,” a report on anti- Semitism by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) in Florida states.

Each year the ADL keeps track of anti-Semitism incidents throughout the nation and issues an annual “audit” of those incidents, helping track trends and identify if anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise or waning.

In Florida, an audit of 2015 incidents, released in late June, shows a significant increase, with 91 verified incidents of anti-Semitism in Florida in 2015, compared to the previous year’s 70 incidents.

A swatiska painted on a South Florida high school parking lot A swatiska painted on a South Florida high school parking lot Florida’s increase also is comparatively higher than the national increase in anti-Semitic incidents, which rose from 912 to 941.

The largest increases in anti- Semitic incidents were in the categories of anti-Semitic vandalism and harassment. There were 61 incidents of harassment, threats, and events in Florida in 2015, compared with 50 in 2014, representing a 22 percent increase. There were 27 incidents of vandalism in Florida in 2015, compared with 19 in 2014, representing a 42 percent increase.

“The fact that anti-Semitic hatred still exists within our communities is not surprising, but it is still disheartening, and remains a constant reminder of how we must be vigilant in educating and speaking out in the face of hate,” said Hava L. Holzhauer, ADL Florida regional director. “Anti-Semitism in Florida has shown many faces this past year – from assault, to harassment to vandalism and more. We in Florida need to be better – to look in the mirror and check prejudice and bigotry and anti- Semitism at the door.”

Florida continues to be in the top four states reporting incidents of anti-Semitism, with New York, New Jersey, and California, reporting higher incidents.

Not all reports of anti-Semitic events are verifiable and not all incidents are reported, said Lonny Wilk, associate regional director for the Florida ADL office. Even though he said the audit is “not 100 percent scientific,” because the ADL has been conducting the anti-Semitism audit for years, it helpful to show upward or downward trends, even if the real numbers of incidents are not always captured.

In the Tampa Bay area, the following incidents were included in the audit:

• Pinellas County: Two incidents were reported. One was the condominium board election and the vow by an outgoing director to “get rid of” the newly elected Jewish officers. The other incident was a report of verbal harassment in the workplace.

• Hillsborough County: Two incidents were reported. One involved harassment and a threat in the workplace and the other was a targeted distribution of anti-Semitic hate literature.

• Pasco County: One incident of vandalism at a construction site by using anti-Semitic and other hate symbols.

• Polk County: There was one report at Southeastern University, a private Christian liberal arts college in Lakeland, of very extreme verbal harassment of one student by another student.

Manatee County: There was one case of a third grade girl harassed by another student in her class. The fellow student told the girl repeatedly that she hated Jews and therefore she hated the girl.

The previous year there were two anti-Semitic incidents reported in Hillsborough County and one each in Pinellas, Polk and Manatee counties.

As disturbing at the incidents in the Tampa Bay area may be, because the population of Jews in the South Florida area is much higher, the number of anti-Semitic incidents was too, with 22 report- ed events in Palm Beach County, 20 in Broward County and 19 in Miami-Dade County.

Assaults and college incidents

The annual ADL 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.

Nationally, ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 56 assaults, the most violent anti- Semitic category – representing a more than 50 percent rise from the 36 assaults reported in 2014. In one case in Boca Raton, a rabbinical student was walking when an assailant on a bike shouted at him that “Jews should go back to Auschwitz. Hitler was right.” An altercation occurred between the two.

Nationally, anti-Semitic incidents at colleges and universities nearly doubled last year. A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014. Seven incidents were reported on Florida’s campuses, including the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Southeastern University, Valencia College, and the University of Central Florida.

At UCF, anti-Semitic and racist stickers were placed at various places on campus. One sticker had a Star of David and the words “1%” and “Bankers” underneath, another had a Nazi swastika depicted on a flag.


The ADL Audit recorded 27 cases of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2015, up from 19 incidents in 2014. Among the incidents were:

Hollywood: Hateful messages were painted on the walls of a synagogue that was under construction, including perverted pictures, the words “(Expletive) the Jews” and “We’re watching you”.

Winter Park: A swastika and hateful messaging was spray-painted on a family’s home.

Miami Beach: A family awoke to find F*%k Jews etched onto their car window, along with a swastika. Many of the family’s relatives perished in the Holocaust.

Harassment and threats

The ADL Audit recorded 61 cases of anti-Semitic harassment in Florida in 2015, up from 50 in 2014.

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.

In Miami Beach, two individuals walked by a synagogue, and yelled “Allahu Akhbar!” (Arabic for Allah is great – it is both a religious term as well as one usurped by Islamic extremists) at an individual at the synagogue.

One of the individuals yelled that “heads will be cut off,” and then stated directly to the synagogue attendee – “I will cut your head off.”

In Orlando, a news station received an email from an individual writing from out-of-state, identifying as a Muslim born in Palestine. In the email, the individual indicates that Jewish places of worship in the U.S. are “the best places to attack first for Hamas in America.”

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