ADL Anti-Semitism report: Not fake news, but Sensationalist News

The LA Times reported (4/24/17) that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. skyrocketed by 86% in the first three months of this year, according to a new report released Monday by a prominent Jewish civil rights organization.

“There’s been a significant, sustained increase in anti-Semitic activity since the start of 2016 and what’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months,” the group’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League’s audit of anti-Semitic events counted 541 anti-Semitic attacks and threats against American Jews in the first quarter of the year, a dramatic increase over the same period last year.

“It’s really incredibly alarming,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the New York-based civil rights group. “What’s most concerning is the fact that the numbers have accelerated over the past five months.”

It does sound incredibly alarming until you read about 40% of the way down the half page story; and learn that Greenblatt attributed the increase in this year’s growth in part to the 161 hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions, including the ADL itself.

WHAT?

Almost 95% of these 161 hoax bomb threats which began in January of 2017 were from a dual citizen Israeli American teenage nut who has been arrested. They account for almost a third of the 541 incidents in the first three months of this year. Without these fake bomb threats the 86% rise would be much smaller.

So why would they be included in the total when they so greatly distort the significance of the ADL’s usually accurate statistics?

Some people might say Jonathan Greenblatt is a new young CEO taking over after a long term predecessor.

Others might blame the LA Times for not placing Greenblatt”s admission that the figures were bloated by a nutty American Jewish teen in Israel, much closer to the beginning of the story, as the Times of Israel’s account did.

Also, I wonder why the more serious report about physical assaults was not focused on. That part of the ADL’s report showed that physical assaults fell from 56 in 2015 to 36 in 2016; a decline of 36%.

Perhaps the reason can be found in two other statements by Greenblatt: “Clearly, we have work to do and need to bring more urgency to the fight. At ADL, we will use every resource available to put a stop to anti-Semitism. But we also need more leaders to speak out against this cancer of hate and more action at all levels to counter anti-Semitism.”

Also the ADL cited the 2016 campaign season — and particularly the candidacy of US President Donald Trump — as a catalyst for anti-Semitic activities and said there were 34 specific incidents (about 3% of the last seven months) associated with the election.

Could political theatre be a partial explanation of both the events and the way they are reported?

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 250 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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