By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) - Jews in the United States suffered the largest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year since the Anti-Defamation League began collecting records 40 years ago, the racism watchdog said on Tuesday.
The 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2019 in the United States included deadly attacks by gunmen at a California Synagogue and a New Jersey kosher grocery store, and a fatal stabbing at a rabbi’s home in New York.
It marked a 12% rise from 1,879 incidents in 2018. Previously, the highest number was recorded in 1994, when the ADL reported multiple unsolved arsons, cross burnings and a drive-by shooting.
The group’s audit of anti-Semitic incidents from 2019 counted 1,127 cases of harassment, 61 cases of physical assaults and 919 instances of vandalism. More than half of the assaults took place in New York City.
"This was a year of unprecedented anti-Semitic activity, a time when many Jewish communities across the country had direct encounters with hate," ADL Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Greenblatt said.
In recent weeks the ADL has issued warnings of a continuing surge in incidents, saying conspiracy theories connected to the coronavirus outbreak could worsen anti-Semitism in the United States.
Greenblatt has also in the past partly blamed President Donald Trump for the rise in anti-Semitism, saying Trump should have done more to condemn incidents, including a far-right demonstration in Virginia in 2017 at which protesters chanted anti-Jewish slogans. One counter-protester was killed.
Among last year’s attacks, a gunman killed a worshiper and wounded three others during Sabbath services in Poway, California, near San Diego. Two gunmen killed a police officer and three bystanders before storming a kosher supermarket in New Jersey. Five people were wounded, one of whom later died, when an attacker broke into a rabbi’s house and stabbed Hanukkah celebrants in Rockland County, north of New York City.
In late 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
"We plan to work with members of Congress and other elected officials this year to ensure that funding is in place and that all states mandate Holocaust education, which can serve as an effective deterrent for future acts of hate," the ADL CEO said on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Graff)