The Hate Landscape, and Priorities for 2021

Antisemitism is often referred to as “the canary in the coal mine,” a warning that if one form of hatred is present in society, others likely will follow. It’s certainly true that throughout the history of the Jewish people, the most antisemitic societies were often just as unwelcoming to other marginalized groups. 

In other words, when hatred begins with the Jews but doesn’t end with the Jews.  

So, there’s good reason to be concerned about the current moment in America with antisemitism rising and other forms of hatred and extremism on the rise as well. This is not just worrisome for Jews, but indeed does not portend well for all immigrants and marginalized groups if the trends continue 

Here are some of the trends we’re watching at ADL, and why all need to be on our guard as we move into 2021. 

There have been significant increases in the past four years of both antisemitic incidents and lethal incidents targeting Jews and other marginalized communities. In 2019, the last year for which we have verified statistics, ADL tracked an all-time record of 1,207 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. That was a 12 percent increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking such incidents in 1979. 

Likewise, violent antisemitism at the hands of extremists has risen substantially in recent years. This includes last year’s white supremacist shooting attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, the stabbings of celebrants at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, the attack on a kosher store in Jersey Cityand the deadly 2018 shooting spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which claimed 11 lives. 

Jews have likewise been singled out in just the past few weeks. A member of a Chabad in Lexington, Kentucky was severely injured at an outdoor Hanukkah menorah-lighting ceremony when a driver shouting antisemitic slurs dragged and ran over him. An Anne Frank memorial in Idaho was vandalized with swastikas. And neo-Nazis launched a cyberattack on a Jewish day school on Long Island. While it’s hard to point to anyone cause behind these disparate attacks, the disturbing proliferation of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial on social media and the internet seems to be fueling or inspiring many of the incidents and trends we are seeing today. 

Rising domestic extremism is another concern in the coming yearIn 2020 alone we’ve witnessed a white supremacist plot to attack power stations in the southeastern U.S.; a number of extremists, including adherents of the Boogaloo movement, attempting to disrupt racial justice protests; and a foiled anti-government militia plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.  

And then there was last week’s horrifying explosion of violence at our nation’s capital, where pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol building, some waving Confederate flags, and others giving voice to antisemitic tropes and displaying hateful antisemitic and racist imagery. 

In 2019, domestic extremists were responsible for the deaths of at least 42 people in the United States in 17 separate incidents, making it the sixth deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. This included the deadly white supremacist shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left 22 people dead and 24 more wounded. The attack targeted Latinx people, making it the second-deadliest attack in modern times against the Latinx community in the U.S., after the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The threat of similar acts of hate-motivated violence has not gone away. 

At ADL, we do not just track antisemitism, but all forms of hate – and we have seen a litany of anti-Black racist attacks, anti-Muslim attacks, anti-Latinx attacks, and anti-LGBTQ+ attacks over the last few years. The year 2019 was the deadliest for hate crimes, according to the latest FBI data, with 51 murders reported. Religion-based hate crimes increased by 63 percent, with 953 hate crimes reported against Jews and 176 crimes reported against Muslims.  

With a new administration in the White House, we have an opportunity to press the reset button. Our leaders set the tone for what is considered acceptable social discourse. The Biden-Harris administration will need to take steps to help stigmatize white supremacist and extremist rhetoric and take other concrete steps to address the threat of domestic extremism.  

On the legislative side, we need Congress to swiftly enact the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer No HATE Act, which would authorize incentive grants to improve local and state hate crime training, prevention, and best practices. Likewise, Congress and the new administration should consider crafting laws that will encourage social media platforms to measure and address online hate and harassment. 

State and federal legislators need to ensure that security for all religious institutions – be it a synagogue, mosque, church or Sikh temple – is prioritized in legislation and covered under security grant funding. Specifically, Congress should increase funding for non-profit security grants for synagogues and other houses of worship, schools, and community centers. 

There’s much work to be done. We’ll need allies in this fight, which is why we are so proud to partner with so many national civil rights and interfaith organizations – Like Interfaith Youth Core – who share our goal of a more accepting and diverse America. 

Jonathan A. Greenblatt is CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.  

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

It is certainly within the rights of philanthropic and political institutions to 'not do religion,' but such an approach undermines any meaningful, holistic commitment to community or place-based humanitarian efforts in much of this country.
Last month, Kevin Singer, co-director of Neighborly Faith, brought two interfaith leaders together to discuss their respective publications and the consequences of the Equality Act on religious organizations, institutions, and places of worship.
It is in this spirit respeaking memory and finding time to etch it into the future that I offer the following exercise. It is designed to do with your friends or folks – preferably three or more. Take some time with it. Use it as a catalyst to...
Imagine my surprise upon coming to USA and celebrating my first Easter, but didn’t people realize it was Easter? Why are all the egg die and chocolates already sold out and none left for us celebrating a few weeks later?
They will, in other words, be learning the skills of mindfulness meditation — the secular version of the Buddhist practice that has skyrocketed in popularity to become America's go-to antidote for stress.
This is a sampling of sacred texts and statements, listed in alphabetical order by religion, that religious communities have used to engage in the work of public health amidst this global pandemic.
Chaplain Fuller’s leadership and guidance has left a lasting, rippling effect on and off campus which will guide communities and individuals into multifaith work and engagement long after her tenure at Elon.
In the grip of a deadly second wave of COVID-19, religious charities and faith-based organizations are among the many civil society groups that have stepped up to mobilize relief efforts.
Una nueva encuesta conducida por el Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) e Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) encontró que los enfoques basados en la fe pueden mover a más comunidades indecisas sobre la vacuna hacia la aceptación.
Highlighting the role of faith and community in providing relief to communities during the pandemic, the project documents how diverse religious communities in the Charlotte area are responding to the pandemic.
Rabbi Sandra Lawson offers religious literacy education in this piece focused on Lag BaOmer, the day of celebration during the otherwise solemn period of the 49 days between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot.
While vaccination rates and warmer weather are currently lending us ample opportunity for optimism and joy, we are not nearly out of the woods regarding the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation’s mental health.
Cargle is not alone in her spiritual discovery. Generation Z has been the driving force behind the renewed popularity and mainstreaming of the age-old esoteric system.
Clergy from 20 New York congregations, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Christians, met as the Interfaith Security Council held its first meeting to talk about how to share expertise and improve relations with law enforcement.
The past four years have devastated communities across the United States with issues including police violence, climate change and environmental degradation, racism, anti-Semitism  anti-Muslim bigotry, and political upheaval.
"No matter the memory, the ability to grow older and look back on life is a privilege. And it’s heartbreaking and disturbing that as a nation we’ve witnessed so many children robbed of that privilege because they were killed by the state."
Musa explores and analyzes data related to the growing irreligiosity and declining religious affiliation in America.
The report, co-sponsored by IFYC and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), revealed higher rates of vaccin hesitancy among certain religious groups, including Hispanic Protestants, white evangelicals, and Black Protestants.
I noticed this year the Christian holiday Easter or Resurrection Sunday fell on the same day Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th. What people outside of the black community don’t realize is when an innocent life is lost it connects us...
Collaboration between religious officials and health care professionals — from both nonprofit and for-profit companies — has aided efforts to increase access to vaccinations.
As various communities consider the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and navigate the physiological and psychological toll of the virus, town halls can be a space wherein community members can be presented with resources and accurate information.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.