In all of Kentucky, not a single anti-Semitic incident was reported to the Anti-Defamation League last year, and only one in 2015.
Sounds like anti-Semitism isn’t a problem in the Bluegrass State…right?
Wrong, said Anita Gray, regional director of the ADL in Cleveland, whose office covers Louisville.
“That’s all that was reported to us,” she told a crowd of 65 people Monday during a program at The J. Other incidents might be reported to police, school administrators or other authorities. They just don’t percolate up to the ADL.
Some incidents go unreported altogether.
“I don’t believe there is one person in this room who believes there was one anti-Semitic act [in Kentucky],” she said.
The lack of incidents the ADL knows of shows that anti-Semitic activity is underreported here, Gray said, and that needs to change.
“When you have an issue, please, please call Matt,” she implored the crowd, referring to Jewish Community Relations Council Director Matt Goldberg.
Anti-Semitism is spiking across the country. According to the ADL’s annual audit, incidents in the United States were up 86 percent (541) for the first three months of 2017 compared to the same quarter last year.
Those figures include the bomb threats phoned or emailed to JCCs nationwide, including Louisville’s. Even though they were made by a Jewish teen in Israel, they still count, Gray said, because they were intended to stoke fear and chaos in the Jewish world.
In greater Louisville alone, Community is aware of at least four anti-Semitic acts this year: the bomb threat at The J, the threatening calls to Temple Shalom and Keneseth Israel, and the swastika incident at North Oldham High School.
The surge is why the ADL is about invest large sums of money to combat anti-Jewish sentiment on two battlegrounds: the Internet and the schools.
Gray said the founder of E-Bay – a Muslim – has made a “six-figure” donation (she didn’t have the exact amount) to stem online anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, she said the ADL plans to invest substantial resources in “anti-bias education” in schools. She met with Jefferson County Public Schools officials Tuesday and found them receptive to the project.
Incidents on college campuses increased from 90 in 2015 to 108 in 2016, according to the ADL audit, but they rose even more dramatically – 106 percent – at non-Jewish elementary, middle, and high schools, from 114 in 2015 to 235 in 2016. In the first quarter of 2017, 95 incidents were reported.
“We need to redouble our efforts … with young people in the elementary schools,” Gray said. “Our next generation is an area where we are going to pour a lot of resources, because we need to.”
She said she spends 40 percent of her time these days working on anti-bias education.
Part of her job involves knowing the number and type of incidents in her region, so ADL can respond appropriately. (Some incidents, she said, don’t rise to the level of anti-Semitism and simply reflect people who know little about Jews.)
That means Gray needs police, schools and individuals to supply her with reports. “I need help in having people step up.”
Want to help?
If you hear of, or are a victim of anti-Semitism, contact JCRC Director Matt Goldberg at 502-238-2707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.