Number of anti-Semitic incidents decrease in Florida

 

Miami Herald Writer

Anti-Semitic incidents declined in Florida by 20 percent in 2012, according to an Anti-Defamation League annual report. This is the second year in a row the number has gone down from the year before.

The organization reported 88 anti-Semitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment in 2012 compared to 111 in 2011. Even with the dip, Florida continues to rank fourth nationwide.

Population is one reason. Florida has a Jewish population of 630,000. California and New York, which also have high Jewish populations, also rank high on the anti-Semitic incident list.

The Anti-Defamation League, known as the ADL, uses information provided by victims and law enforcement authorities to compile the report. Last year, the group also received about 500 phone calls from people who reported incidents. Across the United States, 927 incidents were reported in 2012, a 14 percent decline from 2011.

“We are making progress in South Florida,” said ADL Florida Regional Director Hava Holzhauer.

South Florida incidents in 2012 included a mezuzah ripped from a front door in Miami and a swastika etched on the car of a Holocaust survivor in Hallandale Beach.

Part of the strategy is developing educational programs for different audiences. One of them, “No Place for Hate,” allows teachers and students to play out scenarios involving diversity. More than 228,000 students have received training, Holzhauer said.

But it’s the entire community that benefits from awareness, the ADL says.

Holzhauer said one incident in Miami Beach last year involved the words “Jews killed Jesus” scrawled in front of a prominent Chabad Hanukkah display.

"Such a visible display of anti-Semitism impacted the entire community," Holzhauer said.

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