Anti-Defamation League shows increase in anti-Semitic …

Posted By on April 6, 2019

Vandals spray painted a pair of Nazi flags and iron crosses on the property of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, Ind., in late July 2018. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said arrests have been made in the case. Dwight Adams, dwight.adams@indystar.com

Vandals painted a Nazi flag on a garbage bin shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla on West 116th Street in Carmel, Ind.(Photo: Justin Mack / IndyStar)Buy Photo

Anti-Semitic and extremist activity is on the rise throughout the U.S., and the trend is clear here in Indiana.

The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-semitic activity across the country, reported that in 2017, therewas a 57 percent increase in incidents with an anti-Jewish bias from 2016.

The league'sH.E.A.T. Map, which stands for Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism and Terrorism," isan interactive map tracking extremist and anti-Semitic events across the country, culled from media reports, government documents, victim reports and more.

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In Indiana, 34 events are documented on the map from 2017 through April 2018.In 2016, there were nine.That's in contrast to the three events reported from2010 to 2015.

Allison Rosenfeld, associate regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said she believes "100 percent" that this number is actually much larger, but Indiana's lack of hate crime laws contributes to fewer reports. Indiana is one of only five states without hate crime legislation.

In July, afteranti-Semitic graffitiwas found on the Congregation Shaarey Tefillain Carmel, Gov. Eric Holcomb called for Indiana lawmakers to pass hate crime legislation.

"There's no question in my minds that more incidents are happening than being reported," Rosenfeld said. "Peoplejust aren't reporting them... and it's possible that law enforcement doesn't know how to handle them."

The map isn't updated in real-time, so the numbers for the rest of 2018 won't be includeduntil next year. The map doesn't include the incident at Shaarey Tefilla.

Rosenfeld said harassment and vandalism tend to be the biggest categories. Fifteen of the events in Indiana from 2017 to April 2018are identified as anti-Semitic incidents, which includeharassment, vandalism and bomb threats. Some examples include:

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The next most frequent incident is white supremacist propaganda, such as thedistribution of neo-Nazi and alt right flyers and material. Two reported events were extremist murders.

In Indianapolis, there werenine incidents reported in 2017 through April 2018. Two were white supremacist events: In March 2017, individuals associated with the Vinlander's Social Club and American Guard participated in a "Make America Great Again" march, and in June 2017, members fromIdentity Evropa joined the "March Against Sharia." These organizations are identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Rosenfeld said the rise in incidents in the Midwest has been much higher than the national average, with an increase of 112 percent in 2017.

"Generally the ADL has seen that these peoplewho are originally on the fringe are now more mainstream, and these incidents are increasing," she said. "Anti-Semitism is happening everywhere."

Rosenfeld hopes more people start reporting incidents, so the data can be more accurate.

"Our main goal in thinking about hate crime legislation is tobe encouraged to report it, not only anti-Semitic incidents, but any of discrimination and hate," she said. "People want to be speaking about these things in school with children, and get information about who we can move forward from something like this."

View the H.E.A.T. Map here:adl.org/heat-map.

Kellie Hwang is a reporter at IndyStar. You can email her at kellie.hwang@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @KellieHwang.

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