Report: Anti-Semitic incidents in Pa. hit 2nd-highest level ever in 2019 | Wednesday Morning Coffee

May 13, 2020 7:15 am

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Pennsylvania charted a truly appalling 109 incidents of anti-Semitism statewide in 2019. That’s the second highest-level since tracking began in 1979, according to a new report by the ADL.

The 2019 tally, a 22 percent increase over 2018 totals, is also 70 percent higher than the state’s historic average of 64 incidents a year, the civil rights group said Tuesday.

Last year’s shameful total caps an eye-watering 150 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the state over five years, the group said in its report. Only New York (430), New Jersey (345), California (330) and Massachusetts (114) had more last year, the ADL said in its report.

“We’re very concerned about the data because rising anti-Semitism is a danger to us all. We have found that, at times of political uncertainty, social unrest or downturns in the economy, anti-Semitic incidents tend to increase. And as anti-Semitism rises, other groups often experience rising hate as well,” Shira Goodman, regional director of the ADL of Philadelphia, said in an email.

“This appears to be the case during the pandemic. We’ve seen ignorance and fear fuel growing hatred towards Jews, members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, Muslims, immigrants and other minorities,” Goodman continued. “Education, activism and allyship can help turn the tide, and that’s a responsibility we all share.”

(Source: ADL of Philadelphia)

According to the ADL, here’s what those acts of hate looked like in real terms:

  • “Harassment: There were 68 harassment incidents, a 36 percent increase over the previous year. ADL defines harassment as cases in which one or more Jews reported feeling harassed or threatened by anti-Semitic language or acts.
  • “Vandalism: There were 40 vandalism incidents, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of anti-Semitic hatred, were present in 80 percent of these incidents. ADL defines vandalism as cases in which property was damaged in a manner that harmed or intimidated Jews.
  • “Assault: There was 1 assault incident, a decrease from 2 in 2018. Nationally, ADL tabulated 61 anti-Semitic assaults in 2019, a 56 percent increase from the previous year and the most ever recorded. ADL defines assaults as cases in which individuals were physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus.”

“Of the 109 anti-Semitic incidents across the state, 96% took place in 19 counties in eastern Pennsylvania, with the largest number of incidents occurring in Philadelphia (52), Montgomery County (17) and Delaware County (8),” the ADL said in the report.

(Source: ADL of Philadelphia)

The ADL’s report details the steps the civil rights group has been taking to combat the incidence of anti-Semitism in the state. Among them, “[training] 1,000 law enforcement professionals, and [providing] investigative assistance in 30 extremism-related cases.”

The report also includes such policy prescriptions as a call for legislative hearings on the increase of hate crimes and the rise of extremist groups statewide. The ADL also called on lawmakers to support “legislation that improves responses to hate crimes and domestic terror.”

package of anti-hate crimes bills, sponsored by Rep. Dan Frankel, a Pittsburgh Democrat whose district includes the Tree of Life Synagogue, and other lawmakers, remains in park in a quartet of House committees. The October 2018 murders at the synagogue were the worst instance of anti-Semitic violence in state history.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Six Pennsylvania House Democratic lawmakers facing opponents in the June primary are taking advantage of temporary House rules to use taxpayer money to pay for Facebook ads which, in some cases, tout their accomplishments via video, Stephen Caruso reports in your morning must-read.

As the death toll mounts, state officials have finally announced a plan for widespread COVID-19 testing in Pennsylvania nursing homes, Caruso also reports.The state Senate has approved a $507 million funding measure for nursing homes and care facilities. The bill now goes to the state House, Elizabeth Hardison reports.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine admonished a Pittsburgh radio host who repeatedly called her “Sir” during a conference call on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Correspondent Kim Lyons reports.

From our partners at the Central Voice, here’s how one central Pennsylvania health system makes sure to use the correct pronouns to make trans and nonbinary patients feel more comfortable as they receive treatment and services.

During an appearance before a U.S. Senate panel Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and his colleagues that reopening too soon could cause ‘suffering and death,’ Washington Correspondent Allison Winter reports.

Anti-Trump ads from ex-Veep Joe Biden and an anti-Trump GOP group have hit the air in Pa. and other 2020 battleground states.

On our Commentary Page, one advocate explains how to support abuse survivors during the pandemic. And Gov. Tom Wolf needs to get serious about his commitment to transparency, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe writes

(Dsw4/WikiMedia Commons)


Philadelphia will have fewer polling places during next month’s primary. The Inquirer has a list of locations.
With Allegheny County moving to yellow phase on Friday, local leaders are offering guidance, the Post-Gazette reports.
Some Pa. school districts are freezing local property taxesPennLive reports (paywall).
The Lehigh Valley could hold the keys to President Donald Trump’s re-election. The Morning Call explains what’s at stake.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

State officials distributed the anti-viral drug remdesivir to 51 hospitals across Pennsylvania, WHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post looks into why a hair and beauty products company got a business waiver from the state.
State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday that she wants more people treated at a drive-thru site in Wilkes-Barre, the Citizens-Voice reports.
A fear of returning to work may not cost some people their jobless benefits, the Observer-Reporter reports.

What Goes On.
The Senate comes in at 11 a.m.
Time TBD: Daily COVID-19 briefing.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to PennLive columnist Nancy Eshleman, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s some amazing, old-school roots reggae from Burning Spear. it’s the classic, ‘Marcus Garvey.’

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
 flashes back to the debut of a rookie forward named Alexander Ovechkin. He’s got promise. Kid may be going places …

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.