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Virtual Antisemitism Rises, Violent Antisemitism Falls, in 2016

It’s a tale of two reports: the experts at Tel Aviv University report a global drop in antisemitism in 2016, with “no indications so far of a major increase connected to the tense U.S. election or Donald Trump’s new presidency,” the Fresno Bee notes.

Meanwhile, the activists at the Anti-Defamation League report a one-third increase in antisemitism in 2016, and conclude: “The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role.”

What explains the difference?

There are two answers. First, the ADL report — which gained far more attention in the American media — considers “virtual” antisemitism made online by antisemitic trolls on an equal plane with physical antisemitic attacks against Jews.

The Tel Aviv University report focuses on “antisemitic violence.” It notes some of the ADL’s data on online antisemitism, but says the overall increase in antisemitism in the U.S. has been only slight.

Both reports actually agree that antisemitic violence declined has in the U.S. Even the ADL report admits that there were “[s]ix physical assault incidents, a decrease of 40 percent.” Both also agree that there has been an increase in antisemitic vandalism and graffiti since the election, but the experts at Tel Aviv University are more cautious in their conclusions about the effect of the 2016 election, saying it remains unclear.

The second answer to the question of why the two reports are different is that the ADL has a political and institutional interest in emphasizing both that the number of incidents is rising, and attributing it to President Donald Trump and his supporters. (Notably, the ADL release about its data does not mention the fact that many of the recent incidents were hoax bomb threats by a troubled Israeli-American teenager, but it does cite them as evidence of the growing danger.)

The only conclusion to draw from these two contradictory reports is that virtual antisemitism is rising, but violent antisemitism is falling. Public concern is driven by the idea that one leads to the other. But that is not easy to prove.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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