Jewish groups call on FBI to fix ‘useless’ 2021 hate crimes report

Data from New York, Los Angeles and Miami is among that missing from the document.

This Jewish man was attacked in the lobby of his Brooklyn building in what appears to have been an antisemitic hate crime, Aug. 21, 2020. Source: Dov Hikind/Twitter.
This Jewish man was attacked in the lobby of his Brooklyn building in what appears to have been an antisemitic hate crime, Aug. 21, 2020. Source: Dov Hikind/Twitter.

Jewish groups slammed the FBI’s annual hate crimes report for 2021, released on Monday, for grossly underreporting the rising number of antisemitic incidents.

Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said the blame did not fall solely on the FBI, but rather that the document depends on voluntary reporting from law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Twenty-two percent fewer agencies submitted data than in 2020. Among the cities that didn’t (New York, Los Angeles and Miami) are areas where most American Jews live.

“At a time of record antisemitic hate crimes, it is appalling that the FBI’s data-gathering has been so badly botched,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

“The 2021 hate crimes data is essentially useless. The problem is so bad that record-high levels of antisemitism appear in the official data as actual declines, because major jurisdictions didn’t formally report it,” he continued.

Deutch tweeted, “The FBI’s report on hate crimes is one of the most anticipated federal government documents every year. Unfortunately, this year’s report suffers from inadequate reporting, completely undermining the gravity of the problem of hate in the U.S.”

Although the FBI report paints what is only a partial picture, the reported data still highlights a troubling trend.

“Despite the underreporting, it’s easy to extrapolate from this report what every Jewish community has been feeling, which is that antisemitic incidents are increasingly pervasive in our lives,” said Karen Paikin Barall, associate vice president for public affairs and executive director of the Advocacy Corps at Jewish Federations of North America.

“In addition to continuing to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and fund the Jabra-Heyer NO HATE Act,” she continued, “the new report shows that we need more training and stronger incentives to ensure that law enforcement can properly identify and act on hate crimes when they occur. We appreciate the partnership of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI in elevating these concerns.”

According to data published by the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 saw the highest number of documented reports of harassment and violence towards Jews of any year since 1979, when the ADL started tracking such cases.

The White House announced Monday that it would create an inter-agency group to combat antisemitism, following last week’s high-profile roundtable on antisemitism during which second gentleman Doug Emhoff chaired a discussion with Jewish leaders.

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