Courtesy of JNS; Photo credit: Spokane Police Department. Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane, Wash., was vandalized with a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti. 

Courtesy of JNS; Photo credit: Spokane Police Department.

Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane, Wash., was vandalized with a swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti. 

(JNS) The latest FBI report on hate crimes shows that the number of incidents continues to rise year to year in the U.S., with seven thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine total hate crimes reported in 2020 as compared to seven thousand five hundred and seventeen in 2019.”

“Preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents is one of the Justice Department’s highest priorities. The FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2020 demonstrates the urgent need for a comprehensive response,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland upon the report’s publication Aug. 30. “Last year saw a six point one percent increase in hate crime reports, and in particular, hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity and ancestry, and by gender identity.

“These numbers confirm what we have already seen and heard from communities, advocates and law enforcement agencies around the country,” he continued, adding, “And these numbers do not account for the many hate crimes that go unreported.”

The FBI relies on reports of hate crimes from more than fifteen thousand police precincts nationwide.

Anti-Jewish bias accounted for six hundred and seventy-six incidents — fifty-seven percent of the one thousand one hundred and seventy-four religiously motivated hate crimes in 2020 — aligning with the annual finding that the Jewish community is disproportionately targeted by religiously motivated crimes, given that Jews account for less than two percent of the U.S. population. The total number of incidents is down from the nine hundred and fifty-three anti-Jewish hate crimes reported in 2019, but also occurred a time of national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This report reminds us all that the Jewish community remains a top target for hate crimes,” said Michael Master, national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network, which describes itself as the “official safety and security organization” of the Jewish community in North America. “Despite our relatively small population, these attacks show no signs of slowing down as our community was targeted the most among religiously motivated crimes. We must continue to work to be as prepared and secure as possible so the Jewish community can continue to thrive.”

There were two thousand seven hundred and fifty-five anti-Black hate crimes in 2020, up from one thousand nine hundred and seventy-two the previous year, and two hundred and seventy-four anti-Asian hate crimes, up from one hundred and sixty-one in 2019. Asian-Americans drew attention last year to a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the increase in anti-Black racism came against the backdrop of last year’s racial justice protests.

Among the incidents against Jews last year, fifty-six percent targeted individuals directly. Fifty-three percent involved vandalism or property destruction; thirty-three percent involved intimidation; and ten percent entailed either simple or aggravated assault.

“Every hate crime is heinous and unacceptable, no matter its target, and we must stand resolutely with any targeted group. Yet the fact that American Jews — who make up no more than two percent of the U.S. population — are the targets of nearly sixty percent of religious bias crimes should set off alarm bells,” said David Harris, CEO of American Jewish Committee. “For decades, we have cautioned that anti-Semitism is a rising threat and that it comes from multiple sources, including the far right, the hard left, and Islamist extremists. Fighting Jew-hatred in America must become a national priority and it must be a bipartisan and cross-communal effort.”

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