MILWAUKEE – Last year included an extraordinarily high number of local anti-Semitic incidents, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, having completed its 2016 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
The group performs the audit annually. It noted that its findings mirror a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism across the globe and increased acts and expressions of bigotry surrounding the U.S. presidential campaign.
“The rhetoric around the presidential election not only legitimized bigotry against all minorities, as we’ve seen through a variety of statistics, but also included specific coded and overt anti-Semitic expressions. That climate on the national level affects the local community too,” said Ann Jacobs, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Anti-Semitism Task Force.
“We should all be vigilant against this rise in hate and extremism. We see from history that when communities allow people to be targeted based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or other identity markers, terrible things can happen,” said Jewish Community Relations Council Director Elana Kahn.
While many incidents go unreported, the group indicated it has observed a Jewish community that feels increasingly targeted through harassment, vandalism, and expression, both written and verbal. They noted the following trends:
- Continued anti-Semitic harassment and verbal expressions among middle and high school students, which often takes the form of jokes, pranks, teasing and bullying. Last year, there were more reports of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
- Increased incidents of swastika graffiti on public and private property.
- After many years of more guarded and coded language, an increase in outright anti-Semitic slurs.
The Jewish Community Relations Council strongly encourages individuals and institutions to report all incidents, ensuring full confidentiality. Resources are also available. Email Elanak@MilwaukeeJewish.org. Call 414-390-5736.
Each reported incident is corroborated and reviewed before any action is taken. The audit is reviewed by the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Anti-Semitism & Constitutional Law Task Force as well as its board. The audit is largely of Milwaukee-area incidents, though it can also include incidents from elsewhere in Wisconsin.
“We are particularly pleased that working collaboratively with schools, law enforcement and national agencies, many of this year’s reported incidents were addressed or resolved with positive outcomes,” the group noted in a statement.
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Examples of incidents reported by audit
- A local attorney received an email from a man who threatened to kill the attorney and his son and said: “One less Jew in a law office the better.”
- A student at a high school in a small village in Washington County engaged in persistent bullying of a Jewish student, calling her names like “salty (expletive) Jew.”
- On a local morning radio show, a caller referred to a Jewish guest, employing a conspiracy theory about Jews and Jewish power, and asserting that Jews are duplicitous.
Source: 2016 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents by Jewish Community Relations Council of Milwaukee Jewish Federation