ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS UP IN FLORIDA - Mitch Perry

03/25/04

According to Statistics released yesterday by the Anti-Defamation league, while anti-Semitic incidents stayed steady nationally, Florida saw a 9 percent increase in 2003, with the bulk of the problems occurring in South Florida.

The ADL, reported 102 anti-Semitic incidents in the state last year, up from 93 in 2002. And of the 102, 67 percent of them were in South Florida.

Although the rise in incidents is only up slightly from 2002, ADL officials say there are specific factors contributing to the increase, including the continuing violence in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians.....

Joan Hephardt Winograd is the Southern Area Council for the Anti-Defamation League....She lists other factors leading to the slight increase (roll tape#1 o.q. "hatred and dislike")

Mike Eisenstadt is the Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council for the Tampa Jewish Federation AND a programmer on WMNF.....He says that in comparison to what's been happening in Western Europe in recent years, the U.S. really hasn't been the home of that many anti-semitic incidents.(roll tape#2 o.q."everything increases somewhat")

Florida tied for fifth with Massachusetts in the number of incidents reported -- up from sixth last year -- following New York (364), New Jersey (209), California (180) and Pennsylvania (117).

Among the Anti-Semitic incidents from last year include:

Swastikas on the Jewish Family and Children's Thrift Shop in Sarasota.

  • A private home in Boca Raton was vandalized, burglarized and painted with swastikas.

And an internationally recognized art display at the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg was defaced last December...

For months, Some Jewish leaders feared that the Mel Gibson directed "Passion of the Christ " film could lead to possible acts of anti-semitism, because of fears from those reading his screenplay infers that Jews were responsible for the death of Christ ....But the Tampa Jewish Federation's Mike Eisenstadt says that, after the film's general release last month, just the opposite has been the case (roll tape#3 o.q."so important")

But Eisenstadt worries that as the film lives on in other forms, some levels of prejudice could form(roll tape#4 o.q."those are my concerns")

OUTRO: ADL officials say the overall level of anti-Semitic activity was deeply troubling but added that the apparent increase in Florida could be the result of improved reporting. The annual audit, which relies on reports from law enforcement agencies, victims and community leaders, is more an indicator of general trends than a scientific accounting.

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