It’s official—the election of Donald Trump to the White House has precipitated a marked increase in anti-Semitism in the United States. A new report published by the Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based civil-rights organization that monitors anti-Semitic activity across the country, finds that such incidents (vandalism, harassment, or assault) were up one-third in 2016, and have spiked 86% in the first quarter of 2017—the fledgling months of the Trump administration.
Of the 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions in 2016, nearly 30% occurred after Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in November. The surge carried over into the first months of this year, with the ADL reporting 541 incidents, putting 2017 on track for more than 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents.
The Trump administration has been clumsy in addressing is evident resurgence of anti-Jewish sentiments, to say the least. Although the president acknowledged the spike in February, calling it “horrible” and “painful,” a few days earlier he rebuked a Jewish reporter for raising questions about it during a press conference a few days prior. He followed up in March with comments expressing skepticism toward the extent of anti-Semitic incidents. Press secretary Sean Spicer certainly didn’t help matters earlier this month (Apr. 2016) with his bungled comments regarding the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler’s use of gas chambers.
The administration is “committed to tamping out prejudice and anti-Semitism anywhere it is found,” Spicer assured reporters earlier this week. But the ADL’s report remains damning, especially when viewed alongside the undeniable rise of global anti-Semitism hand-in-hand with hard-right populism. Anti-Jewish sentiments are at a new high in Europe, where xenophobic political parties like France’s National Front, Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, and Poland’s Law and Justice party have gained significant traction. All have brushed up against Holocaust revisionism and anti-Semitic outbursts in their ranks. In France, Marine Le Pen, daughter of France’s most notorious anti-Semite, will face off against Emmanuel Macron in a run-off election come May.
The ADL agrees the problem is symptomatic of such broader shifts, at least in the US. “These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States,” Oren Segal, director of the organization’s Center on Extremism, said in a statement. “Extremists and anti-Semites feel emboldened and are using technology in new ways to spread their hatred and to impact the Jewish community on and off line.”