Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Press Release

Anti-Semitic Incidents Increase in Wisconsin for Fifth Consecutive Year

Mirroring the rise of white supremacy, racism, and anti-Semitism in the U.S. and across the globe, new data shows an unprecedented number of local anti-Semitic incidents.

By - Mar 5th, 2019 03:05 pm

Wisconsin is experiencing an alarming rise in anti-Semitic incidents, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Mirroring the rise of white supremacy, racism, and anti-Semitism in the U.S. and across the globe, new data shows an unprecedented number of local anti-Semitic incidents.

It is the fifth consecutive year of increased incidents, with a 20 percent increase from 2017.

“What’s most alarming is the change in tenor and tone,” said JCRC Chair Ann Jacobs. “The anti-Semitic incidents of 2018 were meaner, scarier, more personal, and unsettling.”

JCRC showed not only a 21% increase in overall anti-Semitic incidents, but a shocking 166% in incidence of vandalism.

“Perhaps most troubling is the renewal of conspiracy theories about Jews,” said JCRC Director Elana Kahn. “We are seeing the revival of old, hateful tropes of Jews as puppet-masters, working behind the scenes to destroy America through race-mixing and the nefarious use of power.”

“Such conspiracy theories,” noted Jacobs, “have a direct connection to the horrific attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh last October. We need to understand the potential outcomes of hateful theories, attitudes, and language.”

Trends include:

  • 20.5% increase in incidents.
  • 166% increase in vandalism.
  • Increase in vitriol and violent language in all incidents.
  • Increase in the use of classic conspiracy theories of Jewish power, Jewish control, and Jews as puppet-masters.
  • Increase in references to Nazism, Holocaust, and white supremacy.
  • 26% of incidents involved youth or took place on school campuses.
  • 45% of incidents took place online.

“We must all be vigilant against this rise of hate,” said Kahn. “We know that other communities are experiencing a similar erosion of civility. We must do a better job of stopping hateful language, interrupting all bigotry, and committing to building a safer community together.”

The JCRC works year-round to respond to and prevent incidents through ongoing interfaith and intercultural relations, ongoing efforts fighting bigotry against all people, and its Hours Against Hate initiative.

The JCRC strongly encourages individuals and institutions to report all incidents. We ensure full confidentiality.

  • Email
  • Call 414-390-5736

Each reported incident is corroborated and reviewed before any action is taken. The audit is reviewed by the JCRC’s Anti-Semitism & Constitutional Law Task Force and the JCRC Board before the final approval process of the JCRC Community Council.

If you have any questions about the audit, or would like additional resources, please contact Elana Kahn at or 414-390-5736.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation envisions a just community that reflects American and Jewish values. The mission is to speak as the representative of the Jewish community on issues of public affairs and public policy by convening and mobilizing the Jewish community through education, advocacy, social justice, and support for Israel.

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