Anti-Semitic vandalism, slurs, harassment and assaults are all on the rise in Florida, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.
In the report, 91 verified incidents of anti-Semitism occurred in Florida in 2015, an increase over the previous year’s 70 incidents. The increase in Florida was also comparatively higher than the rest of the increases in other states. Across the nation, 941 incidents were recorded in 2015 as opposed to 912 in 2014. New York, New Jersey and California are the other three states with the highest number of incidents.
“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 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.”
Among the different types of crimes in Florida, vandalism and harassment saw the largest increase – from 50 in 2014 to 61 in 2015. Fort Lauderdale’s B'nai Sephardim, Broward County's oldest and largest Sephardic synagogue, was one of the victims of that vandalism. In March of 2015, someone used spray paint to deface the synagogue, then under construction, with “[expletive] the Jews” and “we're watching you.”
Other incidents includes nails found under the tires of multiple vehicles outside a synagogue in Margate, a swastika painted on the ground of a parking lot at a Boca Raton high school, a swastika spray-painted on the wall of an apartment complex in Boca Raton, “[expletive] Jews” etched into the car window of a Jewish family in Miami Beach and two individuals yelling “Allahu Akhbar” and “I will cut your head off” in a Miami Beach synagogue.
“This year’s audit, most notably the increases in anti-Semitic vandalism and harassment, are painful reminders that anti-Semitism still poses a threat,” said Scott Notowitz, ADL Florida regional chair. “The ADL’s work fighting anti-Semitism will continue no matter how it manifests from one year to the next. We will persevere.”