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Virginia seeks to combat antisemitism with vandalism incidents on the rise

There have been more than 350 reported antisemitic incidents in Virginia so far in 2022.

SOUTH RIDING, Va. — In just one year, antisemitic incidents increased by 71% across Virginia. Now, the state's governor has issued his own report recommending ways to combat the persistent issue of antisemitism. 

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, (R) appointed a group of 19 members to form the Commission to Combat Anitsemitism as one of his first executive orders when he took office. The commission recently released a final report that studied incidents in the Commonwealth and proposed recommendations to better handle the growing problem.

"Combatting antisemitism in all of its manifestations, and increasing tolerance and understanding, are essential aspects," Chairman Jeffrey Rosen, former U.S. Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen, wrote in the report.

Rosen served as AG in the final month of the Trump administration. 

The report said Virginia may not be the worst among the states for antisemitic incidents, but it is also not the best. There were were 411 incidents reported in 2021, up by 71% from the year before. There are more than 350 cases so far in 2022.

However, based on the Anti-Defamation league, the number of antisemitic incidents across the country grew to 2,717 in 2021 versus 2,026 in 2020.

The report recommending adopting the working definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

"This is crucial because in order to combat the problem effectively, first of all, you have to understand what the problem is," Rabbi Eric Fusfield of B'nai B'rith International said. "We feel like a working definition goes a long way to provide that understanding. It's something that can be used not in a coercive way, but it can be used in an educational way."

Fusfield is one of the commission members, who recently met with Attorney General Jason Miyares following the report. 

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Requiring law enforcement to collect data on hate crimes and expand training
  • Creating a system for schools to report cases of antisemitism
  • Supporting youth initiatives to mitigate radicalization
  • Enhancing information about antisemitism and the Holocaust in the Standards of Learning
  • Expanding curriculums to include Judaism in world history and requiring schools to recognize Jewish holidays

"There really is no other state that I'm aware of who has convened a commission like this," Fusfield said. "I'm really hoping that this Virginia commission can serve as a model for other states and other localities."

The report mentioned how it does not help when public figures make antisemitic assertions. They called out out former President Donald Trump who recently met with Kanye West and far-right extremist Nick Fuentes.

"Even a former president recently met with two notorious antisemites," the report read.

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