PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – This week, the Anti-Defamation League released its annual audit on reports of antisemitism in communities across the country, and in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington saw sharp increases in reports of antisemitism.
“It is a grim reality that prejudice and intolerance are spreading,” said Miri Cypers, the league’s PNW regional director.
Last year, ADL reported 3,700 incidents nationwide, a 36% national increase since the previous year – which Cypers said is “already a record high.” And while Oregon saw 13 reported cases of antisemitism in 2019, that number jumped to 40 reported cases in 2022.
These cases included 22 reports of harassment, 16 reports of vandalism and 2 reports of assault.
Meanwhile, Washington saw 38 reports in 2019, and that number steadily climbed to 65 in 2022 – including 28 reports of harassment and 37 reports of vandalism, with no reported anti-semitic assaults last year.
“I think the climate is really tough and hate is becoming much more normalized,” Cypers said.
Late last spring, Portland saw a string of bias crimes related to one suspect, 34-year-old Michael Bivins, who was charged with the vandalism of two synagogues, damaging property at a local black-owned restaurant and setting fire at the Muslim Community Center.
The ADL, an organization focused on fighting bias and antisemitism, says they’ve also seen increases in xenophobia, LGBTQ hate, anti-black racism and anti-Asian hate – especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe that antisemitism doesn’t happen in isolation,” Cypers said. “When you see a rise in antisemitism, it coincides with a rise in hate targeting other communities.”
Cypers with the ADL says hate crimes are often under-reported, and while the numbers can be frustrating, it’s also a sign that more people are coming forward, crediting the bias hotline that was established in early 2020 through the Oregon Department of Justice.
“Building that culture of reporting and speaking out year over year is going to shed so much light on the problem and help us think toward even more solutions.”
The Oregon DOJ’s bias response hotline urges anyone targeted with bias due to their race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or religion, to contact them.
They have interpreters in more than 240 languages, with trauma-informed operators available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and calls after hours can leave a message to receive a return call.
The bias hotline is 1-844-924-BIAS (2427), and those wishing to report online can make a report at StandAgainstHate.oregon.gov.