LA Daily News

Anti-Semitic events jump in state

By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer

10/04/2011 01:00:00 AM PDT

This image shows a Nazi swastika painted on the entrance to a tunnel, one of the anti-Semitic hate crimes that upped the total about 8 percent for 2010 in California. For the second year, California led the country in anti-Semitic incidents, with 297 reported to the Anti-Defamation League in 2010 -- an 8 percent increase over the year before, according to the league's latest annual report released today.

Across the nation, reported assaults, vandalism and harassment against Jews in 2010 edged up slightly from 1,211 to 1,239 incidents, according to the report.

That included 22 physical assaults and 900 cases of harassment or threats.

"America is still not immune to anti-Semitism and bigotry," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, in a statement. "The good news is that we have continued to enjoy a period of relative calm.

"The bad news is that, for all our efforts to educate, to raise awareness and to legislate, anti-Jewish incidents remain a disturbing part of the American Jewish experience."

The increase was the first since 2004, which saw a record 1,821 anti-Semitic events.

States with large Jewish populations fared the worst, with California followed by New York (205 incidents), New Jersey (130) and Florida (116).

In California, one of the most notorious incidents occurred in La Quinta, where high school students played "beat the Jew." Promoted through Facebook, the game involved a car full of "Nazi" students chasing a student "Jew" on foot. 

Of the nearly 300 anti-Semitic incidents reported to the Anti-Defamation League, half occurred in Los Angeles, Kern, Riverside and

San Bernardino counties.

The 153 reported hate incidents in Southern California, however, was down from a record 182 in 2009, but double the 81 incidents reported in 2006.

"In a Jewish-friendly community in Los Angeles, these incidents are far too prevalent," said Amanda Susskind, a Los Angeles-area director for the ADL.

Other incidents last year included:

At an apartment swimming pool in Santa Clarita last May, a man noticed a woman wearing a Jewish symbol, and called her a "fat Jew." When her husband intervened, he was assaulted.

At a party in the San Fernando Valley last March, one high school boy called another a Jewish slur then punched him in the face to break his jaw.

A woman in Calabasas received threats from an anonymous caller, including one last June that said, "You dirty Jew. I know where you live."

Plus there were incidents like "A Jew lives here" written on the sidewalk before a home in Sherman Oaks. Or the "Step on Jews" spray-painted at one West Valley high school, the swastika scribbled inside the class of a threatened teacher in Canoga Park, or another swastika inscribed near a south Valley synagogue.

In Los Angeles, anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for one out of five total hate crimes, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.

"It's becoming hip to hate," said Susskind. "Kids are becoming loose with these epithets and slurs.

 "If you let these incidents ... go undetected, they will morph into the criminal hate crimes that we see increasing."

 

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