FBI report says Jews are the target of most religion-based hate crimes

New Europe - Tamar Svanidze, Journalist, Global Affairs

A recent FBI report revealed that in 2018 Jews and Jewish institutions were the main targets of religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States.

In its annual report on hate crime statistics, the FBI found that the total number of hate crimes decreased slightly in 2018 after three consecutive years of growth, totalling 7,120 cases. Although crimes that targeted religious groups were down 8% from 2017, in 2018, nearly 60% of the hate crimes in 2018 were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions.

“It is unacceptable that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be at the centre of religion-based hate crime attacks,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, which publishes its own annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. “We need to take concrete action to address and combat this significant problem.”

Following the report, the Anti-Defamation League called on American lawmakers and law enforcement officials to take action to address the deeply disturbing climate of racial and religious hatred that has grown in the United States since Donald J. Trump became president three years ago.

“We strongly urge Congress to immediately pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. By improving hate crime training, prevention, best practices, and data collection, we can stem hate crimes nationwide,” said ADL CEO Greenblatt.

The report notes that race-related crimes were the most common type of hate crime, followed by religious hate crimes.  Almost 50% of hate racial crimes were directed against African-Americans, while religious hate crimes accounted for almost one in five (18.6%) of all hate crime cases. Sexual orientation bias accounted for 16.9% of all hate crimes.

In 2018, 24 hate crimes were committed, the highest since the FBI began tracking and reporting similar cases in 1991. The crimes included a deadly massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, an attack that saw 11 Jews were killed by an anti-Semitic shooter.

“The fact that such a small percentage of the population has seen such a large percentage of hate crime incidents should be worrying for all of us,” said Ira Forman, a former State Department anti-Semitism envoy from 2013 to 2017 and now a senior adviser on anti-Semitism to Human Rights First.

“You see numbers like this or worse in European countries like France where hate-crimes against Jews are way out of proportion to the overall number of Jews in France,” Forman added.

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