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ADL Audit Finds Drastic Increase in Antisemitic Incidents in Its Southwest Region and All-Time High in the United States

  • May 11, 2022

Houston, TX, April 26, 2022 … Antisemitic incidents recorded in ADL’s (the Anti-Defamation League’s) Southwest Region, which covers southern Texas including Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and El Paso, spiked in 2021, more than doubling from 14 incidents in 2020 to 39 incidents in 2021.  ADL’s Center on Extremism categorizes incidents into harassment, vandalism and assault, and harassment in the Southwest Region grew most dramatically.  The 2021 regional audit recorded 38 incidents of harassment (compared to 8 in 2020), 1 incident of vandalism, and no assaults.   

“We are always concerned about an increase in antisemitic incidents, but this year’s big spike is especially troubling,” said ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin. “Moreover, incident reports have continued seemingly unabated into 2022, with numerous distributions of antisemitic and racist propaganda.  Generally, where there is antisemitism, there are other types of hate.” 

ADL’s national Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, recorded a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL in 2021. This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year. Attacks against Jewish institutions, including Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues, were up by 60 percent, incidents at K-12 schools increased 106 percent, and incidents on college campuses rose 21 percent.

Assaults – considered the most serious incident type because it involves person-on-person physical violence triggered by antisemitic animus – increased 167 percent, jumping to a total of 88 reports in 2021 from 33 in 2020. Incidents of harassment were up 43 percent and acts of antisemitic vandalism rose 14 percent.

A substantial surge was reported during the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas. There was a staggering 141% increase in reports of antisemitic incidents that month, as tensions were high and hundreds of anti-Israel protests took place in dozens of U.S. cities. As Jewish individuals were violently beaten in the streets from New York to Los Angeles, a total of 387 incidents were reported that month – including 211 cases of harassment – with 297 of the incidents occurring after May 10, the date marking the official start of military action.

“While we have always seen a rise in antisemitic activity during periods of increased hostilities between Israel and terrorist groups, the violence we witnessed in America during the conflict last May was shocking,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away.”

Major Findings of the National Audit: 

In 2021, ADL counted a total of 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. This represents a 34 percent increase from the 2,026 incidents recorded in 2020 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories:

  • Assault: A total of 88 incidents were categorized as assault, defined as cases where Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were targeted with physical violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus. Antisemitic assaults increased 167 percent from the 33 reported in 2020. Eleven of the assaults in 2021 were perpetrated with deadly weapons. The 88 incidents of assault included 131 victims. Fortunately, no fatalities linked to antisemitic assaults were reported in 2021.
  • Harassment: Of the total, 1,776 incidents were categorized as harassment, defined as cases where one or more Jewish people (or people perceived to be Jewish) were harassed with antisemitic slurs, stereotypes or conspiracy theories. Acts of harassment increased 43 percent, up from 1,242 in 2020.
  • Vandalism: Another 853 incidents were categorized as vandalism, defined as cases where property was damaged along with evidence of antisemitic intent. Acts of antisemitic vandalism increased 14 percent from 751 in 2020. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of antisemitic hatred, were present in more than two-thirds (578) of these incidents.  

Incidents were reported in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The states with the highest number of incidents were New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112). Combined, these states accounted for 58 percent of the total incidents. 

In 2021, there were 525 reported incidents at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, an increase of 61 percent from 327 in 2020. Of the total, 413 were incidents of harassment, 101 were incidents of vandalism and 11 were assaults. About one-quarter of the harassment incidents (111) were linked to anti-Zionist or anti-Israel sentiments.

ADL’s Audit recorded 484 antisemitic incidents attributed to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology. This represents 18 percent of the total number of incidents. White supremacist groups were responsible for 422 antisemitic propaganda distributions, a 41 percent increase.

A total of 345 antisemitic incidents in 2021 involved references to Israel or Zionism, compared to 178 in 2020. Of those, 68 appeared in the form of white supremacist propaganda efforts, which attempt to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.

The ADL Center on Extremism has reflected the complete 2021 data, as well as data from the previous three years, on its H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart antisemitic incidents and events nationally and regionally.



The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.

The Audit offers a snapshot of one of the ways American Jews encounter antisemitism, but a full understanding of antisemitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including  public opinion polling, assessments of online antisemitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as ADL Global 100Online Hate and Harassment: The American ExperienceSurvey on Jewish Americans’ Experiences with AntisemitismMurder and Extremism, and the ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews.


For more information or to set up an interview, please contact Dena Marks at 832-567-8843.