Despite recent Boulder hate crimes, anti-Semitism numbers drop statewide
The number of anti-Jewish incidents in the state of Colorado dropped for the second year in a row, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2006 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
The drop moves Colorado from 10th to 11th in national rank for the most anti-Jewish incidents among the 44 states audited, along with the District of Columbia.
The ADL audit confirms 23 reported incidents in Colorado and Wyoming in 2006, down from 36 in 2005. Of the incidents reported in the ADL’s Mountain States Regional office, which serves both Colorado and Wyoming, six were committed against public institutions.
According to their Web site, the ADL’s ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike. It seeks to put an end to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.
The ADL is currently working on staffing a full-time Boulder office and expects to have it fully operational on April 16.
“If the ADL numbers are accurate, that’s obviously good news,” said CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard. “But it doesn’t change much to our ongoing challenge on campus.”
According to Hilliard, the challenge is to allow people to engage in heated debate without sliding into hateful hyperbole or offensive rhetoric.
“Our struggle is a long-term one–to maintain balance between a robust intellectual environment conducive to all students and one where students feel welcome to debate freely and passionately,” Hilliard said.
The ADL audit results came just three weeks after CU student Joshua McNair’s 2004 essay advocating “white pride” was revealed in the local news media.
Betty Ball, non-violence education coordinator at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, said the ADL numbers are encouraging, but other forms of hate crimes are not declining.
“Right now we seem to have a racist and homophobic climate,” Ball said. “Society is becoming conducive to this environment and Boulder is no exception.”
There have been three potentially hate-motivated crimes reported in Boulder in just over a month, prompting a statement by Mayor Mark Ruzzin and City Manager Frank Bruno on March 12.
“First and foremost we would like to express compassion to the victims in these (recent) cases,” said Ruzzin and Bruno in the statement. “An attack on a community member for any reason, including sexual orientation, race or any other bias, threatens the feeling of safety and security within Boulder’s diverse populations and will not be tolerated.”
The recent alleged attacks were against a lesbian, a gay couple and a man of mixed race, all of whom police believe were attacked due to their sexual orientation or race.
The 2006 ADL audit includes official crime statistics as well as information provided to ADL’s regional offices by victims, law enforcement officers and community leaders.
The audit identifies criminal acts, such as vandalism, violence and threats of violence; and non-criminal incidents of harassment and intimidation, including hate propaganda leafleting and verbal slurs.
According to Ira Chernus, CU professor of religious studies, anti-Semitism isn’t generated to issues of religion, but is more akin to issues of racism.
“It’s a good thing that there are less instances of anti-Semitism, but the important point is to distinguish opposition to Israel from anti-Semitism,” Chernus said. “The ADL tends to confuse those things.”
Regional Director of ADL’s Mountain States office Bruce DeBoskey said the ADL is vigilant in drawing distinctions between the criticism of Israeli policy and the vilification of Israel as a Jewish state.
“It is perfectly legitimate to criticize the policy of any nation as long as double-standards are not being used,” DeBoskey said. “But it is never legitimate to demonize Israel because of its Jewish identity.”
Contact Campus Press staff writer Tim McAvoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.