The number of antisemitic incidents in Virginia rose by 50% in 2022, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.
The organization’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, released Thursday morning, counted just under 3,700 incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism or assault nationwide, the highest level since it started publishing an annual audit in 1979.
Of the 3,697 nationwide incidents — just over 10 incidents a day — 69 were reported in Virginia, up from 46 in 2021. Incidents also spiked in Maryland, nearly doubling from 55 in 2021 to 109 in 2022.
“These numbers are completely unacceptable,” said Meredith R. Weisel, ADL’s regional director in Washington, D.C., in a statement. “It is particularly concerning that Maryland and Virginia saw such pronounced increases in reported incidents, as it shows there is a mainstreaming and normalization of antisemitic activity that is having a tremendous impact on our communities.
“We must work together to combat the spread of bigotry and hate,” Weisel added.
ADL’s study, which tracks reports of both criminal and non-criminal antisemitic incidents, counted 50 instances of harassment and 19 of vandalism in Virginia last year, but has not tracked any assaults in the state in the past five years.
The organization’s “H.E.A.T. Map,” which tracks incidents of hate, antisemitism, extremism and terrorism by city and state, shows that there were 35 incidents of extremism in Richmond in 2022 — up from 22 in 2021 — but that antisemitic incidents in the city dropped from eight to five.
In a news release announcing the release of the audit, ADL noted links between the rising level of antisemitic incidents and instances of high-profile celebrities courting controversy in 2022.
Dallas Mavericks star Kyrie Irving was linked to a handful of incidents stemming from his support of a documentary containing antisemitic material when he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets. And Ye, the musical artist formerly known as Kanye West, was directly referenced in 59 incidents — “an example of how his highly publicized antisemitic statements last year resonated with our motivated perpetrators,” ADL said in its statement.
Irving, who was suspended for eight games, later apologized via Instagram; he deleted the post around the time that he was traded to Dallas in early February, but said he stood by his apology. Ye apologized in October during an interview with Piers Morgan, but went on to make further remarks containing antisemitic tropes about control of the media and banking industries.
Jewish communities in the U.S. have long been on alert for violence and harassment, though many over the years have increased security measures and spoken of a greater sense of danger after the mass shootings at California and Pennsylvania congregations and a growing number of less violent events targeting Jews.
“We were closed when the pandemic started, of course, and now we are in this era of places being open again. But I’ve spoken to a small handful of people that don’t feel safe to come,” said Rabbi Beth Singer of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, an 1,800 member-family Reform tradition synagogue that employs guards and requires visitors to pass through metal detectors.
“Jews tend to walk around with a sort of armor, a way of being vigilant and aware, but at the same time many people recognize that this is not the Middle Ages or the Holocaust and things are generally safe,” Singer said. “Still, the trend toward violence and hatred is disturbing.”
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.