PITTSBURGH — The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — in which the death toll now stands at 11 — is likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the US, the Anti-Defamation League said.
“It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age,” the Jewish organization, which tracks anti-Semitic incidents, said in a statement.
CNN has reached out to the nongovernmental group for more details and is waiting to hear back.
The ADL said the attack Saturday comes at a time when both anti-Semitic incidents and online harassment are on the rise.
Jewish people were the victims of more reported hate crimes than any other religious minority in 2016, according to the most recent year of FBI statistics.
In that year, 684 anti-Jewish incidents were reported. That’s more than the rest of religiously motivated hate crimes combined, records reveal.
The FBI will be the lead agency investigating Saturday’s fatal shooting at a Pittsburgh synagouge as a hate crime. The suspected gunman reportedly made anti-Jewish statements while firing.
The FBI calls an offense a hate crime when there’s an added element of bias. Tracking such crimes can be nuanced and difficult. The motivations aren’t always clear, and the crimes are often not reported by victims and police.
Last year, The Anti-Defamation League reported, anti-Semitic incidents rose almost 60%, the largest single-year increase on record.
The ADL found 1,986 cases of harassment, vandalism or physical assaults against Jewish people or institutions in 2017. It found 1,267 in 2016.
“We’re definitely in a period in our country where there’s a general decrease in civility,” Aryeh Tuchman, associate director for the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said when the ADL released its findings in February. “People in the past who have tamped down their anti-Semitic proclivities may feel more liberated to express them than before.”
FBI says numbers are rising
The FBI showed an overall increase in reported hate crimes of more than 4% from 2015 to 2016.
Anti-Islamic (anti-Muslim) crimes accounted for 307, up 19% from the previous year. That was the biggest percentage rise.
The FBI also tracks religously motivated crimes against Eastern Orthodox Christians, other Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists.
In race categories, African-Americans were targeted the most — in about half of the reported 3,489 racially driven incidents in 2016.
The FBI said 1,200 incidents were motivated by bias against victims based on sexual orientation or gender identity.