The regional increase – from a total of 69 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2004 to 87 in 2005 – contrasted with national figures, which saw a decline from the nine-year high of 1,821 acts in 2004 to 1,757 in 2005, according to the ADL's 2005 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidences.
The report has been published every year since 1988.
The audit breaks down anti-Semitic incidents into two specific categories: harassment and vandalism.
The incidents – only some of which were classified as criminal behavior by law-enforcement officials – were compiled from complaints reported directly to the ADL, from police crime statistics and from media accounts, according to Barry Morrison, Philadelphia regional director of the ADL.
While local statics rose sharply from 2004, they still fell far short of the 117 incidents reported in 2003 or the 101 reported in 2001. Morrison said that there's no discernable pattern or explanation behind the numbers.
"The bottom line – and the most significant point – is that anti-Semitism is a constant. It ebbs and flows; it's manifested in different forms and different locales," explained Morrison, who added that the audit is just one of several barometers of anti-Semitism in America.
"It would be foolhardy to say that based on this report, people can know exactly what is going on and whether anti-Semitism is diminishing," he continued.
Locally, the audit cited 16 separate incidents of negative literature drops by National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi group, in the Manayunk/Roxborough area and in Northeast Philadelphia.
As a whole, the city experienced the third-highest rate of anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi leafleting in the country, according to Morrison.
"We have been frustrated in not being able to determine the source of the leafleting," he acknowledged, adding that he's not sure whether a large group is responsible, or if just a few individuals have downloaded flyers from the Internet.
"There is probably more distribution of this literature than we are aware of," he concluded.
Ups and Downs
The audit further documented some 15 incidents that took place on school grounds, including a Nov. 22 report of a swastika discovered at Abington High School. Also mentioned was the desecration of a large public menorah displayed in the Bella Vista section of the city.
Morrison said the ADL would continue to combat anti-Semitism by focusing on preventative education. He said that he plans to highlight the "No Place for Hate" campaign, which originally started as a program adopted by communities, but in recent years has also been adopted by a growing number of educational institutions.
Despite all this, Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said in a press release that "there is no doubt the acceptance of Jews in the United States far exceeds other places throughout the world."
Still, he cautioned, "the numbers remain sobering because we know from painful experience that it only takes one incident of anti-Semitism to affect an entire community."