ADL antisemitism audit shows large increases, including in parts of South

A swastika was found on a long-abandoned hospital in Ensley, near Birmingham, last week, along with a painted banner from the white supremacist Patriot Front.

The annual audit of antisemitic incidents in the United States hit an all-time high, with 3,697 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in 2022, a 36 percent increase over 2021. That means there was an average of 10 incidents per day.

ADL Southeast, a region that covers Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee, was hit particularly hard in 2022, with a total of 192 antisemitic incidents recorded – a 120 percent increase over the year before.

With 28 antisemitic incidents, Alabama reported more than the previous four years combined. Last year, there were six reported incidents.

Georgia had a 63 percent growth in incidents from 2021 to 2022, from 49 to 80, and its numbers nearly quadrupled since 2020.

The South Central region saw 28 antisemitic incidents, down from 44 in 2021, but a sharp rise in white supremacist propaganda.

“While our regional incident numbers may have not surged like they did in other parts of the country, recorded numbers only tell part of the story,” said Linday Baach Friedmann, regional director of the South Central office in New Orleans. “The normalization of hate is often reflected in a lack of reporting when incidents do happen. For this reason, we must encourage our communities to report when antisemitism hits home so we can better understand what we’re up against locally.”

“Whether you’re Jewish or not, the ongoing rise of antisemitic incidents in our region and nation should concern you,” said Eytan Davidson, ADL Southeast’s regional director in Atlanta. “We know trends like this signal increased bigotry overall, and that’s a reality that threatens the well-being and security in every community. It’s incumbent upon us all to combat hate together, especially when we see extremist activity on the rise.”

Nationally, there were 111 antisemitic assaults, a 26 percent increase from 2021. None were reported in the Southeast or South Central regions.

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported.

The antisemitism statistics did not include votes to boycott Israel, on college campuses or in professional organizations or religious denominations. While the ADL states that “these are antisemitic and contribute to the pressures faced by Jews on campus,” they were not counted because they do not target individuals.

Nevertheless, there were 241 antisemitic incidents that involved references to Israel or Zionism, down from 345 in 2021.

State By State

Alabama had 28 incidents in 2022, with demonstrations and flyer distributions from White Lives Matter and the Goyim Defense League comprising the bulk of the incidents.

There were also 10 white supremacist events, and 130 instances of white supremacist propaganda, for a total of 150 unique events.

Among the antisemitic incidents, in May, two synagogues in Birmingham received antisemitic phone calls, and “a Jewish institution” in Mobile received numerous harassing text messages with conspiratorial threats. The month before and in February, the Mobile Area Jewish Federation received threatening messages from an individual, and the Levite Jewish Community Center received an antisemitic call that included the statement “gas the Jews.”

In July, antisemitic and racist literature was found glued to library books in Birmingham. In June, a note with an antisemitic slur was left on an individual’s desk at work in Birmingham.

In Montgomery, antisemitic content and the “Happy Merchant” meme were uploaded to the Google Reviews page of a local synagogue in February.

Also making the list was the February controversy over the Bellamy Salute lesson at Mountain Brook High School, where students were informed about its resemblance to the “Heil Hitler” salute,” then reenacted it in class. The school then retaliated against the student who made the lesson public.

The rest of the incidents were from demonstrations and leafletting.

In December, six members of White Lives Matter demonstrated outside the courthouse in Centre, and many of the signs were antisemitic. Five members had a flash demonstration outside the courthouse in Oneonta in September, nine had a demonstration in Snead in April, and there was a demonstration in Cullman in March that also included banners from overpasses. Another roadside demonstration took place in Blountsville in February.

Common to the demonstrations were posters claiming that the ADL promotes white genocide.

Four additional WLM events, in Hanceville, Rainsville, Arab and Blountsville, were classified as white supremacist events and not antisemitic harassment.

Literature from GDL was distributed in Gadsden, Cullman, Birmingham, Kimberly, Vestavia, Irondale, Mountain Brook and Florence.

Antisemitic banners were unfurled on overpasses in Hartselle and Hanceville.

The propaganda list was mainly distributions from the Patriot Front. In January, individuals in Cusseta went door to door, asking residents if they could leave copies of their white supremacist materials.

Louisiana had 14 antisemitic incidents, out of 84 overall incidents that includes 73 white supremacist propaganda events.

In February, an antisemitic flyer accusing Jews of sexual abuse was left on a car windshield in Chalmette. The next month, flyers about Jews and the American slave trade were left on cars in a restaurant parking lot in Baton Rouge.

In March, an individual called the ADL office in New Orleans and said “F—the Jews,” and made similar calls to many Jewish institutions in several states. In May, the two Jewish Community Centers in the New Orleans areas received antisemitic phone calls, as did Chabad in Baton Rouge and synagogues in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The JCC in New Orleans also received a bomb threat in June.

In April a man followed a Jewish woman from a store in Lafayette to her home, where he made antisemitic comments. In October in Geismar, an image with a swastika and “F— Jews” was airdropped by a student to classmates.

There were also WLM events in Baton Rouge in January, and GDL events in St. Francisville and Shreveport.

The propaganda incidents were mainly Patriot Front, with a couple of appearances by WLM and the League of the South.

Mississippi saw seven incidents of antisemitism and 36 instances of white supremacist propaganda, for 37 unique incidents.

The only incident not tied to organized groups was in Clinton in December, where a student-run Instagram account at a middle school posted a story of a swastika, and when a fellow student asked why, the response was “cause we are nazis.”

The GDL distributed antisemitic materials in Madison, Jackson, Ocean Springs, Gulfport and Waveland, and the neo-Nazi Folkish Resistance Movement distributed stickers in Southaven, including one with a Star of David and the phrase “Break Debt Slavery.”

The propaganda incidents were mostly Patriot Front. The Old Glory Knights, a Klan group, distributed recruitment materials at a Black church in Hernando in May, and in a residential neighborhood in Nesbit in March.

There were 15 incidents in the Florida panhandle in 2022.

In Navarre, an individual threatened to assault a Jewish neighbor in June, while making antisemitic statements that included “go back to Israel.” In September, a swastika was found on a condo wall, vehicles and a public bathroom in Navarre Beach.

Panama City had one incident each of antisemitic harassment and vandalism. GDL distributed materials in June, and a swastika, SS symbol and “NAR town 317” were spray-painted on a dam.

Pensacola had five incidents of antisemitic harassment, out of seven overall incidents of white supremacist propaganda. Three were NatSoc Florida, a neo-Nazi group, distributing materials in August and September. Goyim Defense League accounted for the other two antisemitic incidents, and Patriot Front was behind the other two propaganda incidents.

Propaganda incidents include the Sons of Appalachia distributing “Will2Rise” in Panama City Beach in April, the Patriot Front in Cottondale in October, Pensacola Beach in August and Pace in July.

Arkansas had 179 overall incidents, of which seven were antisemitic. There were 175 instances of white supremacist propaganda, concentrated mainly in the northwest corner of the state. The only antisemitic incident not tied to a group was a Jewish professor in Conway receiving antisemitic direct messages on social media.

Tennessee had 160 incidents, including 40 antisemitic incidents. Included in the list is harassing messages sent to Zionist students in Nashville after a dispute over a pro-Israel speaker on campus.