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Antisemitic incidents spiked last year in the Pacific Northwest, report says

Herzl-Ner Tamid, a synagogue on Mercer Island that was vandalized in November 2023.
Pacific Northwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League
Herzl-Ner Tamid, a synagogue on Mercer Island that was vandalized in November 2023.

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League indicates there was a spike in antisemitic incidents last year, both locally and nationally.

Across the country, the report tallies almost 9,000 antisemitic incidents last year — an increase of 140% over 2022. That’s the highest number the Anti-Defamation League has ever recorded.

The report says there were more than 5,000 incidents since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 alone. That attack led to Israel's war on Gaza that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Miri Cypers is the regional director of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the ADL. At a briefing this week, she talked about what kind of antisemitic incidents they’re seeing.

"2,000 of all the national incidents were related to the targeting of Jewish institutions, like synagogues, community centers, and Jewish schools. Almost 1,000 of these incidents occurred on college and university campuses, which also saw a huge spike. And we also saw a severe spike in bomb threats," Cypers said.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the ADL recorded a total of 370 incidents, up from 120 last year. The incidents included a White Lives Matter rally outside a synagogue in Missoula, Montana. Another incident involved middle school students in Boise, Idaho, who made the Nazi salute. And in Portland, an elementary school student told a Jewish classmate that “all Jews were supposed to be exterminated during War World II.”

Cypers said, in general, the ADL does not consider criticism of Israel or Pro Palestinian protests to be antisemitic.

"If there is a protest that is based on free speech, protesting politics, or a policy, or a government, that is not something that we would include in our audit of antisemitic incidents. But what we do see often at a lot of rallies is that numerous protests feature signs and comments from speakers that qualify as antisemitic incidents because they could perhaps promote antisemitic tropes,“ Cypers said.

Cypers said those tropes include allegations that Jews or Zionists control the media, financial institutions, or the U.S. government.

She added that the ADL sees equating Judaism or Zionism with Nazism as antisemitic, as well as the chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," a slogan often heard at protests that many use as a way to stand up for the rights and dignity of Palestinians. The ADL data on antisemitic incidents also includes other chants sometimes heard at protests, such as "resistance is not terrorism" and "resistance is justified."

Cypers said most of the incidents detailed in the ADL audit came from Jewish community members themselves.

Nationally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has also reported an increase in anti-Muslim incidents since Israel's war on Gaza began.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Lilly Ana Fowler covers social justice issues investigating inequality with an emphasis on labor and immigration. Story tips can be sent to