Anti-Jewish hate crimes increased by 37% in 2017, according to a new FBI report

  • Hate crimes overall increased by 17% in 2017, while anti-Jewish crimes increased by 37%, according to a new FBI report.
  • Anti-Jewish attacks have consistently been the highest proportion of religiously-motivated hate crimes since they were first collected and reported.
  • The numbers support a noted increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported by the Anti-Defamation League earlier this year.

Hate crimes increased by 17% in 2017, while anti-Jewish hate crimes increased by 37%, according to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Tuesday.

The numbers come on the heels of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, which is believed to be the deadliest anti-Semitic massacre in US history. The attack highlighted anti-Semitism that appeared to be fomenting in online extremist spaces, but the new numbers provide evidence for what was a perceived increase in anti-Semitic sentiments across the country.

In 2016, anti-Jewish hate crimes increased by 3%, and in 2015, they increased by 9%. Since the beginning of the FBI Hate Crime Statistics report, Anti-Jewish crimes have composed the majority of crimes that targeted a specific religion. In 2017, the 938 reported incidents composed 58.1% of hate crimes targeting a certain religion. Anti-Jewish hate incidents were 13% of all hate crimes targeting all groups.

Evidence of a trend

The new data support findings from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that found a 57% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. The ADL said a significant portion of the increase was due to “incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.” The ADL has consistently recorded higher levels of anti-Semitic incidents than the FBI, but both showed a historically significant increase in 2017.

Both sources lend evidence to the theory that anti-Semitism is experiencing a resurgence in American culture, which some connect to President Donald Trump.

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Most Americans think Trump has encouraged white supremacists, and some are worried he has become a ‘legitmising voice’ for hate groups

Shortly after the Tree of Life shooting, a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 54% of 2,509 adults from all 50 states believed that Trump’s decisions and behaviour have encouraged white supremacist groups.

In the wake of the Tree of Life shooting, Trump was criticised for creating alarm around the migrant caravan heading towards the US border, which conspiracy theorists connected to Jewish groups. Before attacking Tree of Life, Robert Bowers posted on extremist social media site Gab that he was enraged that a Jewish group was bringing “invaders that kill our people.”

In 2016, Trump was criticised for defending white nationalist, anti-Semitic protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia who rallied around the cry “Jews will not replace us!” After one person was killed, Trump held a press conference in which he blamed the ralliers and counterprotesters for the violence, despite the killer being a self-described neo-Nazi, according to The Washington Post. “You also had some very fine people on both sides,” said Trump.

Other findings

The FBI’s newly released data also revealed a 17% increase in hate crimes overall, which totalled 7,175 incidents in all.

Racially-motivated incidents saw an 18% increase, with nearly 300 more crimes against African Americans than in 2016.

Hate incidents targeting sexual orientation increased by 5%, while the number of anti-trans incidents reportedly stayed the same.