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Audit finds increase of anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin for fifth consecutive year

According to the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, Wisconsin has experienced an alarming rise in anti-Semitic disturbances.

Mirroring the rise of white supremacy, racism, and anti-Semitism in the U.S. and across the globe, the new data shows an increase of occurrences for the fifth consecutive year, with a 20% increase from 2017.

“What’s most alarming is the change in tenor and tone,” said Ann Jacobs, JCRC Chair. “The anti-Semitic incidents of 2018 were meaner, scarier, more personal, and unsettling.”

JCRC showed not only a 21% increase in overall anti-Semitic incidents, but a 166% in incidence of vandalism. The trends also have a connection what happened in October 2018, when members of a Pittsburgh synagogue were kiIIed. Closer to home in Wisconsin, a photo taken in Baraboo as part of prom celebrations went viral in November 2018. It showed a group of male students with their arms raised in Nazi salutes.

Some of the trends include a 26% of incidents that involved youth or took place on school campuses, 45% of incidents that took place online, and increase in vitriol and violent language in all incidents, and an increase in references to Nazism, Holocaust, and white supremacy.

“We must all be vigilant against this rise of hate,” said Elana Kahn, JCRC Director. “We know that other communities are experiencing a similar erosion of civility. We must do a better job of stopping hateful language, interrupting all bigotry, and committing to building a safer community together.”

For its audit, each reported incident is corroborated and reviewed by the JCRC’s Anti-Semitism & Constitutional Law Task Force. The JCRC works year-round to respond to and prevent incidents through ongoing interfaith and intercultural relations, ongoing efforts fighting bigotry against all people, and its Hours Against Hate initiative.

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