The preferred target for hate crimes? Jews according to the FBI

The FBI's report comes after the ADL released numbers for 2020 which showed that antisemitic incidents remain at record highs in America.
A mob attacked a group of Jewish diners at a West Hollywood restaurant on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Photo: Twitter)

Jews were the most targeted religious group in 2020 according to the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes.

According to the data, approximately 60% of the religiously motivated hate crimes committed in the U.S. targeted Jews in 2020. Jews make up less than 2% of the overall population in the U.S.

There was a decrease in the overall number of reported attacks against Jews, 676 compared to 953 in 2019. Despite the downtick in antisemitic incidents the FBI said overall hate crimes in the U.S. increased to its highest number in 12 years.

“These hate crimes and other bias-related incidents instill fear across entire communities and undermine the principles upon which our democracy stands. All people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love or how they worship,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“As ADL has said time and time again, when just one individual is targeted by a hate crime, it negatively impacts the entire community, resulting in marginalized groups rightfully feeling vulnerable and under siege,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt in a press release. “While these numbers are disturbing on their own, the fact that so many law enforcement agencies did not participate is inexcusable, and the fact that over 60 jurisdictions with populations over 100,000 affirmatively reported zero hate crimes is simply not credible. Data drives policy and without having a complete picture of the problem, we cannot even begin to resolve the issues driving this surge in hate and violence.”

The FBI’s report comes after the ADL released numbers for 2020 which showed that, despite an ongoing global pandemic, antisemitic incidents remain at record highs in America.

Last year’s reported number by the ADL is the third-highest since 1979, when they began releasing annual reports– the number of incidents in 2019 is more than double the number of incidents in 2015.

The FBI report found that more than half of the antisemitic attacks in 2020 involved destruction, damage, or vandalism of property. One-third of the incidents involved intimidation and around 10% involved violence.

There were fewer violent in person attacks in 2020 due to Covid restrictions, but the ADL notes that there was a shift to digital with a dramatic rise in digital attacks, particularly the Zoombombing of Jewish events. The ADL said there were nearly 200 reported antisemitic Zoombombings, making up about a third of the total antisemitic harassment incidents aimed at Jewish organizations.

So how can we cope? Unpacked spoke with New York-based psychotherapist, writer and illustrator, Ashley Seruya (you might know her from Instagram) who specializes in complex trauma, Jewish identity, and intersectional social justice to share some strategies. You can find her suggestions here.

Subscribe to This Week Unpacked

Each week we bring you a wrap-up of all the best stories from Unpacked. Stay in the know and feel smarter about all things Jewish.