Antisemitism almost quadrupled in Delaware last year. What it means for the First State

Swastikas spray-painted around Wilmington. Bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. Anti-Israel flyers spread by white supremacist groups.

These were just a few of the antisemitic incidents recorded in Delaware last year by the Anti-Defamation League, which released its annual audit of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. on Thursday.

'This type of hate is growing and rising'

According to the report, antisemitic incidents in Delaware nearly quadrupled in the past year, with 2022 recording the second-highest rate of antisemitism in the First State since 2015.

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A backward swastika was graffitied over the sign for a popular Wilmington restaurant just before midnight on Feb. 11, 2022.
A backward swastika was graffitied over the sign for a popular Wilmington restaurant just before midnight on Feb. 11, 2022.

It follows a national trend of increasing antisemitism, with an average of 10 incidents – including assault, vandalism, harassment and bomb threats – occurring every day last year, according to the ADL report.

“Such an increase in a state like Delaware shows that this type of hate and perpetuation of this type of hate is growing and rising,” said ADL Philadelphia Regional Director Andrew Goretsky. “And if we don't speak out against it … then we'll only see it continue to increase.”

What happened in Delaware?

As of last year, a study by the Jewish Federation of Delaware and Brandeis University estimated there were about 25,900 Jewish people living in Delaware and the Brandywine Valley. Of them, 18% said they'd personally experienced antisemitism in the past year.

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The Jewish Federation’s report also found that 67% of Jewish people in the region said they were concerned about antisemitism globally. Over half of respondents said they were worried about antisemitism nationwide, and about 30% were concerned about it at the local level.

The 11 antisemitic incidents reported in Delaware last year involved five acts of vandalism, one incident of harassment, two bomb threats and three distributions of “offensive literature,” the ADL reported. Eight of the incidents happened in New Castle County, and there are likely more that weren’t reported.

Only three antisemitic incidents were recorded in Delaware in 2021, the lowest in recent years. Goretsky said that is likely because many businesses were still shut down because of the pandemic, so there were fewer opportunities for antisemitism.

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And while Delaware’s numbers remain smaller than those of neighboring states — Pennsylvania recorded 114 antisemitic incidents and New Jersey reported 408, the third highest in the nation — Goretsky said it’s still a major cause of concern.

“The reality is one incident of hate — whether it's antisemitism, racism, anti-LGBTQ hate, anti-Muslim hate, anti-Asian hate, any hate I'm missing — is one too many,” Goretsky said. "No one should be targeted and be harassed or be made to feel unwelcome in their community because of their identity."

Links to white supremacy

The rise in antisemitism coincides with a rise in white supremacy, both in Delaware and nationwide. In multiple incidents recorded by the ADL last year, groups passed out propaganda that had both antisemitic and white supremacist messages.

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Goretsky said the keys to combating antisemitism, white supremacy and other forms of hate is a dedication to speaking out against it by community leaders — particularly those in the government — as well as more inclusive education in schools.

“We need everybody at the local level to fight up against this.”

Send story tips or ideas to Hannah Edelman at For more reporting, follow them on Twitter at @h_edelman.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Antisemitism in Delaware almost quadrupled last year: ADL report