ADL Releases Antisemitism Audit. What Is It and Why Does it Matter … – Jewish Exponent

The Anti-Defamation League revealed on March 22 that there were 3,697 reported incidents of antisemitism in the United States last year, according to its Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2022.
That is a 36% increase from 2021’s 2,717 reported incidents, and the “highest number on record since the organization began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979,” an ADL press release said.
These numbers are alarming to Jewish leaders, but they don’t just exist for shock value. Results of the Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, conducted by ADL’s Center on Extremism, are a product of a yearlong data collection process; the lofty numbers of antisemitic incident reports help support local and national efforts to gain resources to combat hate.
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It’s what prevents 3,697 from becoming just another scary number.
“These reports provide vital information because the knowledge of the scope of the issue is the first step to being able to address it,” ADL Philadelphia Regional Director Andrew Goretsky said.
What does the audit process look like?
While other organizations rely on the ADL for data, the ADL relies on reports from law enforcement, Jewish organizations and people to collect data.
“Our audit is made up of both criminal and non-criminal incidents that get directly reported to us,” ADL Philadelphia Associate Regional Director Andrea Heymann said.
On the ADL website, users can submit a report of a hate or bias incident and provide details such as screenshots or video recordings. Most commonly, a reported incident will look like vandalism or harassment but can sometimes be a physical attack or threat.
Regional ADLs sift through the data for duplicates, of which there are many. According to Heymann, ADL Philadelphia received 514 reports in 2022, but many described the same white supremacist flyering incident in a local neighborhood. The incident is only counted once for the report.
ADL pulls and aggregates the data from its regional offices to create its annual report. They use regional data to create Hate, Extremism, Antisemitism, Terrorism (H.E.A.T.) maps of bias incidents based on state.
What is the data from the ADL audit used for?
Reported increases in antisemitism are important for organizations, such as JCCs and synagogues, who need data to support grant applications for hardened security or additional resources, such as the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
“The way in which we see a lot of this work pay off is when things like hate crimes laws are passed or expanded, so that we can include more people under protections” Heymann said.
The Siegel JCC in Wilmington, Delaware, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Delaware, received multiple bomb threats in 2017, and ADL reports helped corroborate concerns about increasing hate. 
The Jewish Federation of Delaware has applied for security grants in the past. It is working with the Jewish Federations of North America and Secure Community Network to create a regional security director role to oversee the safety of Jewish organizations statewide.
“The ADL report validates what we’re all seeing and experiencing on a daily basis,” Jewish Federation of Delaware CEO and President Seth Katzen said. “We don’t have the resources to conduct that kind of research, so we rely on ADL to provide that data.”
The information also helps non-Jewish organizations. ADL partners with local law enforcement to help hone their education of community members and police officers to raise awareness of antisemitism.
“We teach local police officers how to investigate a crime, what type of symbol to look for or specific wording,” Pennsylvania State Police Heritage Affairs Section Commander Lt. William Slaton said. “ADL has been instrumental to us in bringing issues to our attention and even [bringing] training recommendations to our attention.”
Why report?
Despite the importance of the ADL’s annual audit, hate and bias incidents remain underreported, Goretsky said. 
Many people simply don’t know how to report incidents. When Goretsky’s son encountered antisemitism while gaming online, he logged off but didn’t report the antisemitism because he didn’t know how, Goretsky said. The two searched the website for a way to report the incident.
But others see instances of antisemitism and choose not to report. Large organizations, such as JCCs or synagogues, may not want to report a threat or breach of security because it puts an unwanted spotlight on them, making them further vulnerable to offenders looking for their next target.
For individuals, the desire not to report can come from uncertainty. If someone sees something that may be antisemitic or hateful, they can sometimes waffle on reporting or deem it too small an issue to report.
Goretsky said that because of the importance of reporting, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
“Let the experts decide whether it’s an antisemitic incident, whether it’s a hate crime,” he said. “If it doesn’t feel right and if in doubt, report it.” 
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