The number of anti-Semitic incidents decreased slightly in Florida last year, according to an annual audit released by the Anti Defamation League.
The report documented 111 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault against Jewish people in Florida in 2011, compared to 116 in 2010. Anti-Semitic events nationwide have hit a 20-year low, down 13 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Florida is the state with the fourth highest number of anti-Semitic incidents, said David Barkey, of the southeastern area council for ADL. He noted two remarkable trends in this year’s report: Anti-Semitic incidents were recorded for the first time in six Florida counties, while incidents in South Florida were down 30 percent.
“Where we saw anti-Semitism in six new counties, it could be that the Jewish population in those counties is increasing, because of course these incidents are going to occur where there are Jews,” Barkey said. Explaining the decrease in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, he said, “maybe our interfaith and education programs are working.”
The ADL, a civil rights organization founded in 1913, focuses on anti-Semitism and monitors attacks and harassment because of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
The annual audit of anti-Semitism documents criminal and noncriminal activity and is compiled using law enforcement records, media reports and direct complaints.
As technology and society change, the report notes, some of the anti-Semitic activity moving online and into schools. Two years ago, only nine incidents of anti-Semitic bullying were reported in schools, climbing to 19 incidents in 2011. In one attack, a Jewish boy in seventh grade was beaten up and hospitalized hours after he had reported anti-Semitic bullying to a teacher who did not follow through with the complaint.
Barkey said everyone has a responsibility to carry the message that discrimination is unacceptable.
“When you see people engaging in this activity, speaking up could make them think twice before acting on that impulse again,” he said.
ADL is kicking off its centennial celebration with a gala on Saturday where it will recognize Arthur Teitelbaum for his 42 years of involvement with the organization.