Women held signs at a prayer vigil, condemning white supremacy and Asian racism. Photo by Chris Stone
A woman holds a sign at a prayer vigil condemning white supremacy in San Diego Photo by Chris Stone

The Jewish community of San Diego County experienced 38 recorded incidents of antisemitism in 2021, including 14 cases of vandalism, 23 incidents of harassment and one assault, according to a report released Tuesday.

The ADL’s annual national Audit of Antisemitic Incidents found the number of recorded incidents in San Diego County in 2021 was at an all-time high.

“These numbers are alarming in and of themselves, but we know this is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Tammy Gillies, regional director of ADL San Diego. “There are many more additional incidents that go unreported or are not reported directly to the ADL.”

She said it was especially disturbing that many incidents of harassment and vandalism occurred on school and university campuses.

The ADL cited the following examples of incidents from 2021 in San Diego County:

  • In March, swastika vandalism was discovered on an exterior wall of a campus residence building at San Diego State University.
  • In May, a Facebook user, who is Jewish, received an antisemitic comment in relation to the Israel-Hamas conflict and praised Hitler claiming, “He knew why he was getting rid of you.”
  • In September, a Jewish student was harassed on multiple occasions by a classmate who made antisemitic and anti-Israel statements which escalated to a physical altercation.
  • In October, antisemitic and homophobic messages were found spray-painted on doors at a middle school and high school.
  • In December, swastikas were found painted on the wall and floor of a restroom at Torrey Pines High School.

“The use of the Nazi symbol, the swastika, evokes chilling memories of the Holocaust and of what can happen when hate and antisemitism go unchecked,” Gillies said.

The ADL said California saw a 27% increase in incidents, jumping from 289 in 2020 to 367 in 2021. Nationwide there were 2,727 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism — an all-time high.

Gilles said the ADL is responding to the increase with youth education programs and efforts to improve federal, state, and local prevention tactics.

The nonprofit organization was founded in 1913 and seeks to fight all forms of hate.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.