BOSTON (CBS) — A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League found a dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Massachusetts and across the country.
The study, released in late February, showed a nearly 60 percent increase in such incidents from 2016 to 2017 in the U.S., and a 42 percent increase in the Bay State.
“The increase is consistent across the country,” said Robert Trestan, executive director of the ADL-New England, who joined WBZ’s Liam Martin and Paula Ebben on Monday on myTV38 to discuss the study. “It’s the first time in over 10 years when we’ve tracked an anti-Semitic incident in every single state.”
He said the spike coincided with the rise of vitriolic language – used by candidates like Donald Trump – during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The vitriol, the language that people are using in the public sphere — whether it’s from elected officials, the media or just people on the street — has been elevated significantly,” Trestan said.
President Trump did condemn anti-Semitism during a speech last April on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying, “We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found.”
But he has faced criticism from groups like the ADL for a number of decisions, like hiring Steve Bannon, who ran a publication, Breitbart News, that has been accused anti-Semitism. He was also criticized for saying last year that there were “very fine people on both sides” of a white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.
“The other thing he could do better at is not retweet some of the people who are the biggest bigots in the country,” Trestan said, referring to President Trump reposting videos in November from a British blogger with ties to white supremacy. “It sends a message to people in the white supremacist community. If he cuts that off, then he sends a clear message.”
Trestan pointed out there’s been a rise in hate crimes in general in the U.S., not just against Jewish communities, and said we need to do a better job of educating our children. He pointed out most of the incidents the ADL has tracked took place in schools.
“We need to be using this opportunity to stand up more than ever and we need to be encouraging everyone to do that,” he said. “If we allow it to grow, this kind of hate is going to become common.”