HOUSTON — The Anti-Defamation League says they're seeing an increase in antisemitic and hate incidents both nationally and in the Southwest.
According to the organization, there were increases in three categories - harassment, vandalism and physical assaults.
Tara Gassett said she remembers the moment she picked up hateful flyers left in front of her house last year.
"They were in a Ziploc bag," she said. “Each bag had three rocks to make sure that they didn't fly away.”
According to ADL, antisemitic incidents surged to historic levels in 2022.
"I was scared. I was mad. You know, I was concerned," Gassett said. "You know, you go to sleep and you wake up and there's antisemitic ads, you know, in your front yard. It's creepy.”
ADL Regional Director Mark Toubin said there are a number of reasons for the increase in incidents.
"Within our culture, there has been an increase of celebrities and other people who have been expressing antisemitic tropes, which have had a real impact. Of course, online hate, unfortunately, continues to rise," Toubin said.
According to ADL's audit, the 3,697 recorded incidents nationally in 2022 were the highest they've seen since records began in 1979. Last year saw a 36% increase from 2021.
In the Southwest region, which includes Houston, 73 incidents were recorded, according to the ADL. More than half of those incidents were in the Greater Houston Area.
“Any number above zero, in this particular case, is not a good number. And the fact that we're seeing this increase, it continues to create a sense of major concern," said the CEO of the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, Joel Dinkin.
“It's not about fear," he said. "I think the statistics continue to hit home. That there was realization that all of our hard work is not having the kind of impact that we would want in this regard. And we maybe think about how as a community and as a city we work a little differently to address it.”
Toubin said one way to hopefully decrease the number of incidents is to see a collective community response from local leaders, elected officials and communities denouncing antisemitism. He said that could be supported by national legislation that might help drown out the hate.
“It doesn't take much for a person in a position of respect in this community to stand up and speak out," Toubin said.
The ADL provided the following list of resources to combat these types of incidents:
- ADL Education Initiatives and Programs: https://www.adl.org/about/education
- ADL Legislative Initiatives: https://www.adl.org/take-action/advocate-with-adl
- Report Incidents: https://www.adl.org/report-incident