ADL: Swastika not always symbol of Jewish hate


NEW YORK — The painting of a swastika — the dark, ubiquitous signature of hateful vandals everywhere — will no longer be automatically considered an act of anti-Semitism under new guidelines for recording attacks against Jews announced by the Anti-Defamation League.

The most prominent Jewish defense agency in the country, perhaps the world, announced July 27 that it has revamped its guidelines for recording anti-Semitic incidents in its annual survey for the first time in 30 years, taking a more conservative approach.


“We know that the swastika has, for some, lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalized symbol of hate,” said Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, in a statement. “So we are being more careful to include graffiti incidents that specifically target Jews or Jewish institutions as we continue the process of re-evaluating and redefining how we measure anti-Jewish incidents.”

Another major change in the survey is that data are being collected in real time throughout the year rather than compiled at year’s end from police reports and complaints to ADL’s regional offices. As a result, incidents can be more thoroughly investigated as they unfold, said Deborah Lauter, the director of ADL’s civil rights division, who is in charge of the audit.