According to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League, the number of reported incidents involving anti-Semitism grew by 57 percent in 2017.
The report, Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, was released this week and found 1,986 incidents in 2017, up from 1,267 incidents in 2016.
That is the largest single-year increase since they began tracking in 1979, and it is the second highest number they ever recorded. 2,066 incidents were recorded in 1994. The numbers had mostly been dropping since then, before dramatically rising in 2016 and 2017.
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out three factors he believes contributed to the increase. He points to the present highly divisive state of American politics, the emboldening of extremists, and the impact of social media.
The far-right and white supremacists are feeling far more confident in the current climate, as evidenced by incidents like the rally in Charlottesville, VA. A separate ADL report released last month noted that in the current academic year, white supremacist activity on college campuses had increased by more than 250 percent.
Given the way the leadership behaves in this country, this disappointing turn of events is not that surprising. When political candidates are openly anti-Semitic themselves, of course that will have an impact on the behavior of citizens.
The number of incidents has risen before, so this is hopefully just another brief uptick and the numbers will fall again. But that will not happen by itself; we need to continue to resist bigotry wherever we find it.