Anti-Semitic acts across the country dropped for the second straight year and declined dramatically in Los Angeles County, but bigots have found a new medium for their hate messages: the Internet, according to a report released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
In Los Angeles County, acts of vandalism, harassment, threats or violence against Jews fell 51%--from 132 to 65--according to the ADL’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents.
Officials believe that part of the 1996 decline is the result of the incarceration of one man, Allan Carlson, who in 1995 was implicated in the distribution of numerous anti-Semitic fliers in grocery stores and public schools. Carlson is now serving two years in prison for shooting out the windows of 27 cars in Newport Beach.
Nationally, anti-Semitic hate crimes fell 7%, and in California they dropped nearly 30%, the report says.
ADL leaders applauded the declines and in general credited tougher law enforcement against hate crimes, increased educational outreach on intolerance issues and overall crime rate reductions.
Mayor Richard Riordan, who joined ADL officials at a City Hall news conference, promised continued collaboration with community groups to combat intolerance.
“This is good news, very good news, but hate is still with us,” Riordan said. “One act of hate is one too many.”
Leaders warned that continued vigilance is needed to prevent the spread of intolerance, especially on the accessible forum provided by an expanding electronic frontier.
“Electronic hate is the dark side of the technology revolution, and bigots have taken particularly well to the medium,” said David Lehrer, the ADL’s regional director. “They have created troubling and persistent anti-Semitic background noise that pollutes the Internet.”
Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups joined in the chorus of cyberspace voices during 1996, the report said. People who claim the Holocaust never happened took to the World Wide Web with anti-Semitic sites, chat groups and mass e-mails, and some placed ads espousing their message in college newspapers.
“If kids are looking for information on the Holocaust, we need to make sure they don’t get directed to the home page of a Holocaust denier and think that’s accurate information,” Lehrer said.
Some of the most serious acts in 1996 reported across the nation by the ADL include:
* The detonation of an explosive device at the door of a Jewish center in New York City.
* The shooting inside a Wisconsin synagogue by two men with a BB gun during morning prayers.
* The toppling of more than 100 tombstones over a three-night period at four Jewish cemeteries in the Chicago area.
The ADL’s annual audit includes data from 46 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported by victims, law enforcement officers and community leaders.
In most of the Los Angeles County incidents, anti-Semitic messages and swastikas were scrawled on public and private property.
Clare Sperling and other residents of a Woodland Hills apartment complex fought against a rash of anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed across their elevators and walls.
Vandals wrote “We Hate Jews” and other offensive slogans in red ink, terrifying the residents, about half of whom are Jewish, Sperling said. “It was a horrible experience,” she said. Sperling, 83, said she has only experienced anti-Semitism once before, as a child in Brooklyn, N.Y. “My mother went looking for an apartment, and there were plaques on the walls that said, ‘No dogs, no peddlers, no Jews.’ It’s an experience you remember for the rest of your life.”
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Here are Los Angeles Conty results from the Anti-Defamation League’s annual report on anti Semitic incidents across the nation:
County Total: 49
Los Angeles: 17
San Fernando Valley: 25
County Total: 72
Los Angeles: 34
San Fernando Valley: 32
County Total: 132
Los Angeles: 83
San Fernando Valley: 49
County Total: 65
Los Angeles: 42
San Fernando Valley: 23
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Here are Los Angeles County results included in the Anti-Defamation League’s annual report on anti-Semitic incidents across the nation:
Cases of vandalism, harassment, threat and assault
1993: 48 in Los Angeles County
17-Los Angeles; 25-San Fernando Valley; 6-Long Beach; 1-outlying areas
1994: 74 in Los Angeles County
34-Los Angeles; 32-San Fernando Valley; 2-Long Beach; 4-outlying areas
1995: 132 in Los Angeles County
83-Los Angeles; 49-San Fernando Valley
1996: 65 in Los Angeles County
42-Los Angeles; 23-San Fernando Valley
Source: “1996 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,” Anti-Defamation League