RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An alarming report from the Anti-Defamation League reveals antisemitic incidents went up across Virginia last year.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization which audits reports of antisemitism annually, released a report Thursday showing Virginia ranked 13th for the highest number of antisemitic incidents reported in the country for 2022.
The League’s audit also revealed antisemitic acts went up by 50% across the state. There were 69 antisemitic incidents reported in Virginia in 2022 compared to 46 incidents reported in 2021 and 49 incidents reported in 2020.
Of those 69 incidents, ADL reported 50 incidents of harassment, a 43% increase of the 35 incidents reported in 2021, and 19 incidents of vandalism, a 73% increase of the 11 reported in 2021.
No incidents of antisemitic assault were reported over the last five years, according to ADL.
“We are deeply troubled by this dramatic surge of antisemitic incidents reported, particularly in Maryland and Virginia in 2022,” Meredith Weisel, Regional Director of ADL, said. “It shows there is a mainstreaming and normalization of antisemitic activity that is having a tremendous impact on our communities. We must work together to combat the spread of bigotry and hate in our communities.”
People living in Central Virginia previously had concerns after finding antisemitic flyers in Richmond’s Westover Hills neighborhood and in Ashland last year.
Daniel Staffenberg, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, said he’s seen a rise in crimes meant to intimidate and terrorize people, all because of their religious beliefs.
“We live in a time when hate-filled rhetoric is way to common. Social media has amplified it,” he said. “To be a victim of an antisemitic act, to have a flyer show up on your doorstep, to be told that you do not belong and that you are other makes no one feel good.”
Attorney General Jason Miyares established an antisemitism taskforce in February. Later on that month, the General Assembly passed a bill to adopt the Working Definition of Antisemitism into Virginia Law.
Staffenberg said educating against hate is the key to stopping it. Another key is allyship, he added.
“We’re trying to build interfaith and interreligious partnerships, so that in the Black, Latino, the Hindu and the Muslim community we have alliances and allegiances that can stand up for each other,” he said.
Staffenberg also encouraged people to report any antisemitic incidents through their antisemitism reporting form online.