Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Press Release

Audit reveals increase in anti-Semitic incidents

Last year included an extraordinarily high number of local anti-Semitic incidents.

By - Feb 20th, 2017 02:44 pm

The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation has just completed its 2016 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Mirroring a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism across the globe and increased acts and expressions of bigotry surrounding the U.S. presidential campaign, last year included an extraordinarily high number of local anti-Semitic incidents.

“The rhetoric around the presidential election not only legitimized bigotry against all minorities, as we’ve seen through a variety of statistics, but also included specific coded and overt anti-Semitic expressions. That climate on the national level affects the local community too,” said Ann Jacobs, chair of the JCRC’s Anti-Semitism Task Force.

“We should all be vigilant against this rise in hate and extremism. We see from history that when communities allow people to be targeted based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or other identity markers, terrible things can happen,” said JCRC Director Elana Kahn.

While we know that many incidents go unreported, we have observed a Jewish community that feels increasingly targeted through harassment, vandalism, and expression, both written and verbal. A few trends are worth noting:

  • We note continued anti-Semitic harassment and verbal expressions among middle and high school students, which often takes the form of jokes, pranks, teasing and bullying. Last year, there were more reports of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
  • There were increased incidents of swastika graffiti on public and private property.
  • After many years of more guarded and coded language, we note an increase in outright anti-Semitic slurs. We will continue to monitor this.

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

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 Board.

We are particularly pleased that working collaboratively with schools, law enforcement and national agencies, many of this year’s reported incidents were addressed or resolved with positive outcomes.

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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