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October 02, 1992 - Image 67

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

the Los Angeles office along with the Jewish
federation cosponsored a conference on
Security for Religious Institutions. The Los
Angeles City Council and the County Board
of Supervisors offered rewards totaling
$35,000 for the arrest of those responsible for
the firebombing. A rally was held outside the
burned-out synagogue attended by 200
Christians and Jews from throughout
Southern California to denounce hate. One
Christian minister said: "If you touch one
synagogue, you touch every Christian church
in America." The local media covered the
arson, the press conference, the security
conference and the rally.

As noted, this arson was followed by a series
of arsons and attempted arson in other areas
of Los Angeles. ADL had held another
security conference in Ventura County just
prior to an arson there, which gave the
temple administrators the necessary tools for
dealing with vandalism and for handling the
media. Also ADL contacted all the local
synagogues and alerted them to possible
copy-cat incidents, and the local police to
increase patrols at all local synagogues. The
arsons and attempted arson were also
covered fully by the media. In late April,
authorities apprehended someone they
suspected of involvement in at least some of
the arsons.

Conclusion

area of personal harassment, which the 1991
Audit figures reflect. This, combined with
the pressure associated with a deteriorating
American economy during the past year, may
well have contributed to the new record-
setting levels of anti-Jewish acts.

ADL's 1991 Audit findings represent the fifth
consecutive year of significant increases in
reported anti-Jewish acts. In the vandalism
category (where the 1991 total was slightly
ahead of that of 1990) the last five years have
seen a jump of over one third. Acts of assault,
threat and harassment (which soared by 25%
in 1991) over the same period have increased
by nearly 200%.

Yet numbers in themselves cannot tell the
whole story. It should be remembered that
behind each of the incidents noted here is an
individual victim, a family, a community,
targeted for intimidation—indeed, a form of
terrorism. The lasting pain of scars, emo-
tional as well as physical, inflicted by crimes
of hate must not be underestimated.

One of the major factors noted in recent years
showed continued signs of increase in 1991—
the rise of anti-Jewish incidents reported on
college campuses. While the rate of increase
slowed in 1991, these acts have doubled over
the past 4 years. At the same time, another
important factor again declined—namely,
anti-Semitic acts by neo-Nazi Skinheads. To
be sure, the violent crimes of such gangs
remain a matter of serious concern; law
enforcement agencies, both local and federal,
have paid greater attention to this problem in
recent years.

The nationwide increase in anti-Semitic acts
demands an ever more forceful response
through those means available to official
authorities and community leaders in a
democratic society: firm enforcement of
appropriate laws, regular and creative
educational programming against prejudice,
and enhanced public awareness of the nature
and dimension of the hate crime phenom-
enon. ADLs active monitoring efforts, its "A

ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Episodes

Vandalism, Harassments, Threats and Assaults
Year by Year
National Totals

Between the 15th of May and the end of July,
Orthodox Jewish congregants of two Boca
Raton synagogues were the victims of
vandalism, smoke bombs, drive-by
shootings, BB gun shootings, verbal assaults
and harassment.

The Boca Raton Criminal Intelligence
officers believe that all the episodes were
related and possibly may be connected to a
Skinhead presence in the general area.

A Resurgence of
Politically-Related Incidents

There were 52 anti-Semitic incidents linked
by their perpetrators to the Persian Gulf war
committed in 14 states across the country
from the start of Operation Desert Storm on
January 16 through February 14. Another 28
such incidents were reported over the next
few months, for a total of 80. Hate mailings
and threats included swastikas and state-
ments such as "Death to Jews, " "All Jews
will burn and die in hell," and "Keep
checking for those letter bombs."

It should be noted that such politically
related acts of anti-Jewish animus cannot be
considered mere expressions of political
criticism. Rather, the violence and bigotry of
the incidents cited place them beyond the
bounds of legitimate debate. And while the
Gulf crisis may be over, the danger of
renewed political anti-Semitism in a
presidential election year overcast with
economic dark clouds will require continuing
vigilance.

Conferences on Security
and Bias Crime

In cooperation with law enforcement
authorities, educational and other religious
and ethnic organizations, ADL offices on
both the local and national levels have carried
out programs of public education, emphasiz-
ing the need for effective security at houses of
worship and other community-based
institutions.

In November, ADL in cooperation with the
League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith in
Canada, convened the first comprehensive
"Conference on Anti-Semitism Around the
World." It brought together scholars,
journalists, religious and community leaders
from the U.S., Canada, Israel, South America,
the former U.S.S.R., Germany, Poland, and
Romania to assess the phenomenon of anti-
Semitism in a rapidly changing world. The
diverse reports and discussions illustrated that
there are common anti-Semitic threads as
well as distinctive differences in countries
around the world.

Around the U.S. throughout 1991, ADL-
sponsored security and bias-crime
conferences on anti-Semitism, security, hate
crimes training and extremists have brought
together all community elements—institu-
tional leaders, clergy, educators, parents and
law enforcement officials—to discuss bias-
oriented attacks, and to grapple with the how-
to's of stronger security measures. The
conferences have also focused on the very
difficult questions having to do with the whys
of anti-Semitism and racism. ADL—both
regionally and nationally—participated in
various grass roots anti-bias activities such as
the Northwest Coalition against Malicious
Harassment, Inc. and the Stockton (New
Jersey) State College Human Relations
Coalition.

Boca Raton, Florida

ADL worked with local police to get them to
respond and to take the incidents seriously
and to be aware of and sensitive to the anti-
Semitism. ADL consulted with the rabbis
and synagogue leadership and security
guards were employed. ADL also was able to
get regular security patrols by the police and
the private Boca Del Mar Development
security increased for the protection of the
rabbis and congregants. Several of the
incidents were covered in the local press.

themselves against vandalism and other forms
of bias crimes, and to respond effectively
should they occur. Major elements of this
broad-ranging program are detailed here.

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1983

1 9 ,6

1987

1988

1990

1991

Key: U Vandalisms
❑ Harassment. Threats and Assaults

In 1991, the most serious forms of anti-
Semitic vandalism—bombings, arson, and
cemetery desecrations—continued to rise
even beyond the high level of 1990. Such
serious types of violence had also risen
sharply in 1988 and 1989.

In addition, 1991 saw a significant rise in
direct physical assaults against Jews; the
year's total of 60 doubled that of 1990.

Another factor that had virtually disappeared
in 1989 after leaping to prominence in
1988—i.e., anti-Semitic acts linked by their
perpetrators to events in the Middle East—
again came to wide attention in 1990. Then,
in 1991, the Persian Gulf War brought with it
a significant number of anti-Semitic acts,
largely in the form of hate mail to Jewish
organizations, blaming them and the Jewish
community for the war or making other
hostile statements. Such politically-related
anti-Semitism calls for especially intensive
monitoring— especially in the election year
of 1992, with some candidates ready to
scapegoat the Jewish community or engage in
Israel-bashing.

Many observers have noted the possible
correlation between, on the one hand, a
perceived decline in civility, a coarsening of
public expression and popular culture, in
American society and, on the other, the
dramatic rise in bias crime, particularly in the

World of Difference" project and its other
counteraction and educational programs—
including the publication of this Audit
report—are geared toward those goals.

Despite the year's troubling statistics, the
overall picture retains some positive features.
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia
now have statutes dealing with hate crimes,
many patterned after ADL model legislation.
Numerous states and localities are working to
improve communication between community
groups and law enforcement authorities,
while such officials, increasingly sensitized,
are developing better reporting and investiga-
tive procedures on bias crimes. The new
federal Hate Crime Statistics Act has begun
operation. Today, public officials, educational
administrators and community leaders are
responding more frequently to hate-motivated
incidents with sympathy and solidarity
toward victims, and a determination to reject
and overcome the affront to decency and
threat to pluralism presented by acts of gross
or violent prejudice.

ADL's Counteraction
Program

During 1991, ADL regional offices have
organized, co-sponsored or participated in
more than 40 such meetings, covering the
following states: Arizona, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Maine (Maine saw its first-
ever hate crimes conference held in Portland
during May), Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.

In addition to involvement in these security
conferences, ADL staff members have been
invited to brief law enforcement officials, at
the local, state and federal levels on hate
groups, bias crime legislation and other
security-related topics throughout the year.
Dick Lobenthal (Detroit regional office)
lectured on extremist groups at the Midwest
Gang Investigators Association annual
conference.

By coordinating police and local institutional
leadership, ADL seminars, conferences and
training have established greater community
awareness of practical bias-crime prevention
measures, stronger support among cooperat-
ing agencies and heightened sensitivity by
public officials for the citizens they serve.
They have also helped community members
to understand how important it is to report
bias crimes whenever they occur.

Hate Crimes Statistics Act

ADL has developed and supported a
combination of preventive and counteraction
measures over the past twelve years to enable
the Jewish and other communities to protect

As part of its overall hate crime counteraction
effort, ADL has played a leading role in the
implementation of the federal Hate Crime

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