Anti-Semitic Violence In And Around Colorado Remains High Despite Slight Decline In 2018

April 30, 2019
Photo: Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting Memorial
A woman places a stone, Monday Oct. 29, 2018, on a memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue, to one of the 11 people killed when a gunman opened fire during worship at the temple on Saturday in Pittsburgh. 

A new report on anti-Semitism found anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in Colorado and nationwide.

Numbers declined slightly in 2018, but remained near-historic levels, according to data released today by the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. There were 48 reported incidents of anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism reported in the three-state mountain region of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. Thirty-nine of those incidents happened in Colorado.

“We welcome any decline in anti-Semitic incidents,” said ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin in a statement. “We remain concerned, however, that the level of reported anti-Semitic incidents over the last three years is the highest in more than a decade. We will not be happy until no individuals, families or Jewish institutions are targeted with anti-Semitic hate.”

The organization has been collecting this kind of data since 1979, but can only access the mountain state data since 2006, according to the ADL’s Jeremy Shaver.

“You can't manage what you don't measure,” Levin said in an interview. “We very much are spreading the word about these statistics. People need to know that anti-Semitism is definitely still a thing.”

The state also had the third-highest number of white supremacist propaganda distributions in the country during 2018, with 72 pieces of literature and three white supremacist rallies. Only California and Texas had more white supremacist activity.

Levin said ADL counts both criminal hate crimes and noncriminal acts like the use of slurs and bullying in schools as hate incidents.

Some examples of reports collected include a mezuzah, a box meant to house a scroll with passages from the Torah, torn off the doorpost of a Jewish family's home and graffiti found in a bathroom at Eaglecrest High School.

ADL gets its information mostly from victims of anti-Semitic activity, law enforcement and news reports.

“We don’t count everything that’s reported to us as an actual anti-Semitic activity,” Levin said. “We actually go through a pretty thorough vetting of it to make sure it meets our criteria before we report it out.”

Since the beginning of 2018, there have been more than 120 anti-Semitic or white supremacist incidents in Colorado, mostly centered in the Denver Metro area.

“This year continued a trend we’ve been seeing over the last two years where there has been just an incredible amount of anti-Semitic incidents … in schools, in the general community and in the way people are acting toward each other,” Levin said.  

Nationwide, the ADL report said anti-Semitic assaults doubled and included the deadliest attack in U.S. history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. ADL recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions last year. That makes 2018 the third-highest year for such incidents since ADL started tracking.

“One of the things that it demonstrates is that there has been an embodiment of anti-Semitic activity that’s been going on,” Levin said. “I don’t think that happens in a vacuum. It may be a bit of a canary in the coal mine. [Some of the] people who are haters are actually acting on their hate at this time. The trend is quite troubling.

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