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Antisemitism rises 55% in Milwaukee in 2019

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73 antisemitic incidents were reported in Wisconsin’s largest city over the last year


In a disturbing trend, Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee saw a 55% increase in antisemitic incidents over 2019.

An Audit of Antisemitic Incidents was released this week by the Jewish Community Relations Council – Milwaukee (JCRC – Milwaukee), which found that there were 73 “reported and corroborated” incidents over 2019, “which reflects a 55% increase incidents from 2018 to 2019 and a 329% increase since 2015.” 

The audit identified an increase in several trends, which include harassment, threats, and assault, hate group activity, references to the Holocaust, Nazis and Hitler, conspiracy theories and derogatory references to Israel and Zionism.

Most concerning was the rise in hate group activities, which the audit stated rose 900%, while harassment, threats and assaults increased by 150% from 16 in 2018 to 40 in 2019.

Derogatory references to Israel and Zionism saw a 160% increase, and references to the Holocaust, the Nazis and Hitler saw a 94% increase over 2019.

The JCRC – Milwaukee also stressed that the nature in which antisemitism is expressed has drastically changed especially when it comes to threats, harassment and assault. 

“They are bolder, more open, more personal, and more threatening,” the group stated, adding that there were no antisemitic incidents of harassment, threats or assault in 2015, but in 2016, six were reported and this increased to 15 in 2017, 16 in 2018, and 40 in 2019.

“Hate group activity includes actions by known white power, white nationalist, black separatist, and neo-Nazi groups,” the JCRC – Milwaukee explained. “There were 10 incidents that clearly involved hate groups in 2019.”

“More than two dozen instances of vandalism of swastikas and other Nazi and neo- Nazi-related symbols,” the JCRC – Milwaukee reported in the audit.

Last year, flyers from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were distributed with racist and antisemitic language, including, “When the Blacks and Jews are the majority they will NOT stand for white quality like they have tricked us into doing for them!”

A Racine synagogue was also vandalized last year with a spray-painted swastika, a symbol for neo-Nazi group The Base, and “Jude.” 

In 2019, there was also an increase in Holocaust denial and minimization in Milwaukee, including multiple social media posts calling the Holocaust a hoax and that “the Holocaust was invented propaganda to destroy Germany.” 

“More than two dozen instances of vandalism of swastikas and other Nazi and neo- Nazi-related symbols,” the JCRC – Milwaukee reported in the audit.

The number of incidents that referenced the “Zionist Jewish lobby,” called Jews “Zionists” in a derogatory way “or shorthand for essential evil, rose 160% to 13.”

Stating several examples, the organization said that an email sent to a Jewish institution said, “A year ago at this time I was a big supporter of Israel. Now I long to see it overrun by Palestinians. Death to Israel!!!!” 

A social media post by a local resident also claimed that “The Zionist Jewish State, Israel is fascist,” and several comments on the post “referenced conspiracy theories and compared Israel and Zionism to Hitler.”

However, despite the concerning upsurge in antisemitic incidents, the organization stressed that there “was a 50% decrease in the number of reported incidents in high schools, from six to three. 

“Incidence of vandalism decreased from 16 to 13,” JCRC – Milwaukee concluded.

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