BOSTON (CBS) — The Anti-Defamation League says there was a 44-percent jump in reported anti-Semitic incidents in the state in the first nine months of 2017.
Those incidents include harassment, vandalism, school incidents, and threats against Jewish institutions.
ADL New England regional director Robert Trestan told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Don Huff that 117 of the 132 incidents around the region happened in Massachusetts–with a large number of them in K-12 schools and on college campuses.
“We saw a surge in incidents really from January through the late spring, slowdown in the summer, and then we’re seeing another uptick,” Trestan said.
Anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in a total of 58 Massachusetts cities and towns. He said that’s a very concerning number, because it means tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents were exposed to some form of anti-Semitism.
“The immoral political environment, particularly with the alt-right, is one of the contributing factors,” Trestan said. “It is pushing hate and bigotry into the mainstream … teenagers are just as susceptible to the messages of hate that are on their phones, in the papers, and online–and regrettably, they’re reproducing some of it in their school environments.”
He adds that education is the key to lowering the amount of incidents.
“We should be focusing on the youngest residents of the Commonwealth, and that means more anti-bias education in schools,” he said.
Trestan said the rest of the region was also seeing an increase in similar incidents.
“We are seeing somewhat of an uptick in the rest of the region, both in Vermont and Maine,” he said. “We’ve had upward of half a dozen KKK flyering incidents in northern New England, and that’s equally troubling, because these are forms of dissemination of hatred, and if you live on a street or go to a school where a neo-Nazi or a Klan flyer goes up, it sends you an important message that you’re not wanted. It tells you that you’re a target. And that is simply unacceptable.”
Some school officials believe the best way to stop the problem is having anti-bias programs, similar to the one students participate in at Brookline High School.
“We train them to talk about issues of race, bias, many of the ‘isms,’” said Brookline High School associate dean Brendan Kobus
“It’s really digging in, making kids aware of problems, and then teaching them the skills to confront the problems.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Don Huff reports