Anti-Semitic incidents in Arizona decline in 2019 but increase nationally

Keisha McKinnor

In 2019, Arizona experienced a decrease of anti-Semitic activity for the first time in several years according to new data from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).

The 2019 ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 20 anti-Semitic incidents statewide in Arizona, a 41% decrease over the previous year and the largest decrease in the region for the past several years. “Although Arizona experienced a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents we cannot let up on this fight against hate,” says Keisha McKinnor, assistant regional director, ADL Arizona Region. “We must remain vigilant at all times. One incident is one too many.”

Incident Breakdown

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories: harassment, vandalism and assault. Of the total incidents reported in Arizona in 2019:

  • Harassment: There were 11 harassment incidents, a 55% decrease over the previous year. ADL defines harassment as cases in which one or more Jews reported feeling harassed or threatened by anti-Semitic language or acts.
  • Vandalism: There were 8 vandalism incidents, a 66% decrease over the previous year. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of anti-Semitic hatred, were present in a majority of these incidents. ADL defines vandalism as cases in which property was damaged in a manner that harmed or intimidated Jews.
  • Assault: There was 1 assault incident, an increase from 0 in 2018. Nationally, ADL tabulated 61 anti-Semitic assaults in 2019, a 56% increase from the previous year and the most ever recorded. ADL defines assaults as cases in which individuals were physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus.

Of the 20 anti-Semitic incidents across the state, the majority took place in Maricopa County.

National Incidents

In 2019, ADL counted a total of 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S., a 12% increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018. There were incidents reported in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. The audit found there were, on average, as many as six anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. for each day in the calendar year – the highest level of anti-Semitic activity ever recorded by ADL.

The year included five fatalities directly linked to anti-Semitic violence and another 91 individuals targeted in physical assaults. More than half of the assaults nationwide took place in the five boroughs of New York City, including 25 in Brooklyn alone.

The full national audit can be found at

How ADL is Responding

ADL pursues a comprehensive approach to addressing anti-Semitic incidents and behavior. ADL is the largest anti-bias educator in the United States, annually teaching hundreds of thousands of youth and adults to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of bias in themselves and others. ADL is the largest non-governmental trainer of law enforcement in the nation, helping over 15,000 law enforcement officers each year better understand hate crimes and extremism. ADL is a tireless champion of civil rights for all, advocating at the federal, state and local levels for better prevention and response to anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

In the Arizona region, ADL works diligently to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of bias through investigation, advocacy and education. That work continued as anti-Semitism surged in the region in 2019, including:

  • ADL Arizona trained over 1,200 law enforcement professionals and 15 law enforcement agencies on hate crimes/extremist activities and managing implicit bias.
  • ADL impacted over 50,000 students in Arizona through its No Place for Hate and A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute bias and bullying prevention programs in 2019.
  • ADL Arizona supported victims of anti-Semitism and other forms of bias, built diverse coalitions and worked with dozens of schools, campuses, workplaces and other institutions and community organizations throughout the year.

ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the ADL Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

The Audit offers one method to examine how American Jews encounter anti-Semitism, but a full understanding of anti-Semitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including but not limited to public opinion polling, assessments of online anti-Semitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as ADL Global 100Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on TwitterOnline Hate and Harassment: The American ExperienceMurder and Extremism in the United States in 2019, and the ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews. For a broader examination of anti-Semitism, read ADL’s new resource, Anti-Semitism Uncovered.

The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is a project of ADL’s Center on Extremism, whose work is supported in part by the following generous donors as well as numerous others: Roman Abramovich, the David Berg Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, New England Revolution Foundation, Rowland & Sylvia Schaefer Family Foundation, Inc., Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, The Nancy K. Silverman Foundation, Louis Sobelman, Zegar Family Foundation and The ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Anti-Semitism.


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