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Anti-Defamation League reports 114 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Mass. in 2019

Fall River police investigated vandalized gravestones at the Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River in March 2019.
Fall River police investigated vandalized gravestones at the Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River in March 2019.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

For the third straight year, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Massachusetts in 2019, including the desecration of a Fall River cemetery and the arson of two Chabad houses, were in the triple digits, the Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday.

The continuing wave of violent acts in Massachusetts came as the nation overall established a new record of hate-related crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions — 2,107 acts of “antisemitic hate” — the highest number since the ADL began tracking the data in 1979. There were 114 incidents recorded in Massachusetts, officials said.

“The data tells the story that antisemitism continues to permeate American society,” Robert Trestan, the ADL’s regional director for New England, said in a statement. “People are feeling increasingly emboldened to let their hate come out of the shadows and display their antisemitism in public."

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Massachusetts recorded the fourth-highest number of incidents per state in the country (114), topped by New York (430), New Jersey (345), and California (330), the statement said.

The ADL’s research concluded that at least one incident took place in 61 cities and towns in Massachusetts. They included:

— The arson of Chabad houses in Arlington and Needham. The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

— The vandalism of the Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River where 59 gravestones were vandalized with anti-Semitic messages including swastikas.

— 52 incidents of antisemitic vandalism “where property was damaged in a manner that harmed or intimidated Jews," down 37 percent from a year earlier.

— 61 incidents of antisemitic harassment “where one or more Jews reported feeling harassed by the antisemitic language or actions,” a 3 percent increase from 2018.

— One assault, defined as someone being “physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of antisemitic animus,” a decrease from three in 2018.

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In 2015, a total of 50 incidents were reported in Massachusetts. But since then, the reports of incidents has escalated to 125 in 2016, 177 in 2017, and 144 in 2018, the ADL said.

"The alarming manifestations of antisemitism in 2019 instill fear and are stark reminders that much work remains to be done,'' Trestan said. "ADL is committed to focusing on confronting antisemitism through educational programs and resources, community outreach and law enforcement engagement.”


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.