Antisemitic incidents in Colorado remained at a historic high in 2020 with perpetrators finding new ways to carry out acts of hate during pandemic times including “Zoombombing” which disrupts a videoconference with harassment, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
In 2020, the ADL documented 60 reports of antisemitic incidents in Colorado compared to 61 in 2019. These two years had the highest levels of antisemitic incidents in Colorado in a decade.
“Far from being a thing of the past, antisemitism is an existential threat to the safety and security of Jewish individuals and communities across the region and country,” wrote Scott Levin, ADL Mountain States Regional Director, in a news release. “Data from ADL’s audit, combined with state and federal hate crime reports, demonstrates that we cannot let down our guard. We will redouble our efforts to confront antisemitism and hate, but we cannot do it alone. Antisemitism must be a concern for all people of goodwill and conscience.”
Colorado incidents documented by the ADL in 2020 include:
- A passerby asking a Jewish family if they were Jewish, adding “We’re going to kill all you (expletives).”;
- A stranger identifying himself as “Adolph Eichmann” interrupting a Jewish funeral service on Zoom, repeatedly writing “The only good Jew is a dead Jew” accompanied by swastika images in the chat section;
- Flyers distributed on a college campus claiming COVID-19 was the fault of “Zionist Central Banks”;
- A banner reading “Never Forget Jews Did 9/11” hung over an Interstate 25 overpass in Denver
The audit identified in Colorado two cases of antisemitic assault, 43 cases of harassment and 15 cases of vandalism.
Nationally, antisemitic incidents remained at a historically high level in 2020 with a total of 2,024 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL. Antisemitic incidents declined by 4% nationwide after hitting an all-time high in 2019, but 2020 was the third-highest year for incidents against American Jews since ADL started tracking the data in 1979.
“In January and February of 2020, antisemitic incidents in schools, colleges, and universities were reported at significantly higher levels than they were during the same period in 2019,” the report said. “As the pandemic became known and spread, education, businesses and religious services moved online, and ADL noted an increase in incidents of antisemitic ‘Zoombombing’ — the intentional disruption of live videoconferences.”
The ADL recorded 196 incidents of antisemitic videoconference attacks in 2020 with 114 of those incidents targeting Jewish institutions such as synagogues or schools.
The audit documented 331 antisemitic incidents attributed to known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology, representing 16% of the total number of incidents nationally. White supremacist groups were responsible for 277 antisemitic propaganda distributions, the ADL said.
In response to the historic rise in antisemitic incidents over the past four years, the ADL made several policy recommendations to combat the hate including encouraging public officials and civic leaders to publicly denounce antisemitism and all forms of extremism; asking federal, state and local authorities to provide money for enhanced security to at-risk houses of worship, schools and community centers; and requesting the government better equip law enforcement with tools and guidance needed to prevent, identify and respond to hate crimes.
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