The number of reported antisemitic incidents throughout California rose 27% last year and Jewish rights organizations today urged the state Legislature to act immediately to address the issue.
The Anti-Defamation League's annual audit recorded a total of 367 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in California in 2021, nearly triple the 2015 number, the organization said in a statement.
The number includes 182 total incidents in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties, a rise of 29% from 2020, including 64 incidents of vandalism of businesses, places of worship, public spaces and schools.
"We're seeing a new, but unfortunately age-old, kind of epidemic in our city -- and it is one of antisemitic hatred,'' Jeffrey Abrams, regional director of ADL Los Angeles, said in a statement.
"While our city reels from an increase in assaults, these heinous acts of harassment, vandalism and propaganda all cause a ripple effect, with the perpetrators seeking to instill fear among not just the Jewish community, but all minority and marginalized communities,'' he continued. ``And this we cannot, and will not, tolerate.''
Incidents took place throughout the country, but the states with the highest number of reports were New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112). Combined, these states account for 58% of the total antisemitic incidents reported last year, according to the ADL.
The number of reports rose 34% across the United States last year. The 2021 levels in both the state and the nation represent all-time highs, and are nearly triple the rates of 2015, the ADL said.
California saw an overall increase of 27%, with 217 incidents of harassment, 135 incidents of vandalism, and 15 incidents of assault.
"The ADL's report confirms what so many of us in the Jewish community already felt to be true: that antisemitic and hate incidents are happening around us -- to us -- at staggering levels beyond that of any time in recent memory,'' said David Bocarsly, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California's executive director.
"We also know we are not alone. Our friends and neighbors in other minority communities are experiencing similar anxiety and fear as this recent tide of hate affects us all. Our legislative agenda supports policies that tackle each stage in the evolution of hatred: education, preventing its spread, physical security, and community response. We call on the legislature to swiftly and urgently enact our anti-hate agenda, to protect Jews and all people in the State of California.
The ADL and JPAC are urging the state Legislature to act immediately to address the increase in anti-Jewish incidents.
"These acts of harassment, vandalism, and propaganda aren't simply numbers, they're stories that cause a ripple effect of terror -- striking fear in our communities,'' said Kendall Kosai, director of policy for the ADL's Western Division. ``We cannot, and will not, tolerate this as our new normal. We look forward to working together with California elected leaders and JPAC on initiatives that fight back against all forms of hate in our communities.''
The 2022 Legislative Agenda includes a record 11 bills and budget requests under consideration by lawmakers intended to combat antisemitism and hate crime. The package ``takes a comprehensive approach to rooting out hatred and protecting against hate-motivated violence,'' according to the JPAC.
Among those bills is AB 587, which would require social media companies to report their hate content policies as well as how hate continues to proliferate on their platforms.