American Jewish Committee (AJC) is deeply troubled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 hate crime statistics, released yesterday, which showed that overall hate crimes were up and crimes targeting Jews comprised 57.5% of all religious bias crimes last year.

“Now is the time to act,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Every hate crime is heinous and unacceptable, no matter its target, and we must stand resolutely with any targeted group. Yet the fact that American Jews—who make up no more than 2% of the U.S. population—are the targets of nearly 60% of religious bias crimes should set off alarm bells. AJC’s 2020 State of Antisemitism in America report revealed that an astounding 88% of American Jews are concerned about Jew-hatred in the United States – and the latest FBI hate crime statistics illustrate exactly why. For decades, we have cautioned that antisemitism is a rising threat and that it comes from multiple sources, including the far right, the hard left, and Islamist extremists. Fighting Jew-hatred in America must become a national priority and it must be a bipartisan and cross-communal effort. Whether they carry tiki torches or placards denouncing Zionism, antisemites must be confronted no matter their background or ideology.”

According to the FBI data, 7,759 hate crimes took place in America in 2020, an increase of 6% compared to the 7,287 reported in 2019. Of all reported hate crimes, 1,174 targeted victims due to their religion and 676 of them—57.5% of all religious bias crimes—targeted Jews. 53% of hate incidents targeting Jews involved the destruction, damage, or vandalism of property; 33% were instances of intimidation; 6% were simple assaults; 4% were aggravated assaults; 1% were instances of burglary or breaking and entering; and 1% were instances of larceny or theft.

AJC’s 2020 State of Antisemitism in America report, released last October, found that 88% of American Jews view Jew-hatred as a problem in the United States and 82% believe it has gotten worse over the past five years. More than one in three American Jews—37%—reported having been the victim of antisemitism over the past five years, 31% said they sometimes avoid certain places or situations out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews, and 24% said they had refrained from wearing or carrying items that might enable others to identify them as Jewish.

Notably, the FBI’s hate crime statistics are based on voluntary self-reporting by state and local law enforcement agencies across the country and are thus incomplete. Dozens of cities with over 100,000 residents—including Baltimore, Maryland; Norfolk, Virginia; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Anaheim, California—reported no hate crimes at all in 2019. AJC publicly supported the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which establishes grants to improve hate crime reporting and enable federal authorities to better understand the scope of the problem and develop the necessary tools to combat it. The measure was adopted by large majorities of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

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