The increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States during 1980 must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Althogh part of the numerical increase can be attributed to better reporting methods, law enforcement officials suggest there is a clear pattern that more and mroe Americans, particurlarly youths under 17 years of age, are venting their hostilities and prejudices openly against minorities.
Anti-Jewish incidents rose sharply during recent months, particularly in the Northeast and California, where most Jewish Americans live. According to the Anti-Defamation Legue (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, 377 incidents were reported this year, up three-fold from the 129 recorded in 1979. As has been the case with blacks and other minorities, these occurrences have ranged from cross-burnings to abusive words or pictures drawn on cars and homes and, in some cases, even bodily assaults and threats. Almost all appear to be the work of individuals acting alone without any organizational direction. The ADL reports 112 bodily assaults this year, although such a count was not made last year and hence cannot be analyzed for comparative purposes.
The criminal justice system must display a tougher response to vandalism and violence. Since young people are often imitative --acts -- the media must be alert not to glamorize groups like the Ku Klux Klan that thrive on racial and religious bigotry.
Schools and private organizations must help foster that climate of citizenship that recognizes the worth of all individuals. It is promising, therefore, that the ADL will shortly be holding a conference involving educators , law enforcement officials, and social scientists to attempt to find remedies.
But, at the same time, much of the corrective action must take palce within the home. It is there, after all, that those deeper fundamentals of decency and fairness to all peoples are formed and nurtured. Racial and religious harassment, not to mention underlying prejudices, have no place in civilized society.