Anti-Semitism Rising in 'Alt-Right' Era, New Study Shows

White nationalists attend a rally on October 28, in Shelbyville, Tennessee. “Extremists feel energized like they never have before. They’re behaving like they have the wind at their backs,” the national director of the Anti-Defamation League said. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

It is nothing new for reporters with social media accounts to receive pro-Hitler memes and swastikas in 2017. After all, far-right conspiracies claim Jews control the media. White men who are part of the so-called alt-right also claim to reporters that real-life Nazi-occupation survivor George Soros, the Jewish philanthropist, is somehow manipulating an anti-white agenda behind closed doors. For those who read such deliberately abusive statements on a daily basis, it's easy to form an impression that anti-Semitism is rising in America.

Well, new data published Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an international non-governmental organization focused on civil rights issues, show that anti-Semitism is indeed rising in America in the age of President Donald Trump, fake news and the alt-right. The data also show a particularly unsettling increase in anti-Semitic incidents taking place specifically in New York, the state that has the largest population of Jews in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.

A man wearing a shirt with swastikas is forced away from the scene by the crowd moments before being punched by an unidentified member of the crowd near the site of a planned speech by white Richard Spencer at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

"Extremists feel energized like they never have before. They're behaving like they have the wind at their backs," Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the ADL, told Newsweek in a phone interview about the civil rights group's findings.

Greenblatt noted that the growth of anti-Semitism has been boosted by things like white supremacist recruiting efforts on college campuses, which is being performed by groups including the self-described European heritage outfit Identity Evropa. He also claimed that anti-Semitism is spread on both sides of the political divide in today's America. Some people on the left have singled out Jewish neo-cons as being responsible for America's foreign wars, according to Greenblatt, while ignoring non-Jews for their participation in the same events. But it may be in renewed conspiracies around Jewish influence, which are bolstered most loudly by the far-right, where the voices of anti-Semitism are finding most shelter.

"People have described anti-Semitism as the oldest form of hatred," Greenblatt said of the conspiracies surrounding Jewish influence. "It's almost like one of these timeless tropes."

The ADL data point to 703 incidents of harassment, including 168 bomb threats against Jewish institutions from January 1 until September 30th. There were 162 in the first quarter, three in the second quarter, and three in the third quarter. There have been 584 incidents of vandalism, including 52 against Jewish institutions, and 12 physical assaults during that time frame. That's more than double the rate of anti-Semitic incidents that took place over the first three quarters of the previous year.

"These incidents took place across the country, but consistent with prior reports, the states with the highest number of incidents tend to be those with the largest Jewish populations. These include New York State (267 incidents); California (197); Massachusetts (117); Florida (69) and Pennsylvania (58)," the ADL reported. New York City alone has seen a surge of anti-Semitism: Incidents are up 92% in the city compared to the first three quarters of the previous year, according to ADL's findings.

Anti-Semitism is unequivocally a fundamental part of alt-right politics. Andrew Anglin, the editor of the neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer—a sophomoric website that frequently glorifies the Holocaust—has suggested that the issue of hating Jews is more important than anything else to the movement, including slowing the flow of immigration or fighting against PC censorship. "There's room for different viewpoints, but when it comes to the Jews this is non-negotiable," Anglin said on a white supremacist podcast about the alt-right's values. "You have to focus on the Jews as the primary enemy."