Anti-Semitic acts spiked since Trump election win, watchdog group says

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Anti-Semitic incidents, from bomb threats and cemetery desecration to assaults and bullying, have surged in the United States since the election of President Donald Trump, and a "heightened political atmosphere" played a role in the rise, the Anti-Defamation League said on Monday.

A sharp increase in the harassment of American Jews, including double the incidents of bullying of schoolchildren and vandalism at non-denominational grade schools, was cited in the ADL's "Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents."

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Overall, the number of acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions rose 34 percent in 2016 to 1,266 in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the ADL said.

"The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role in the increase," the ADL concluded in its report.

White House spokesman Michael Short said Trump consistently called for an end to anti-Semitism, as recently as Sunday in a speech on Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found," Trump told the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York.

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Pennsylvania Jewish cemetery vandalized
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Pennsylvania Jewish cemetery vandalized
Melanie Steinhardt comforts Becca Richman at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at fallen tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rabbis Shawn Zevit (L) and Adam Zeff speak at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at fallen tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Rabbi Adam Zeff walks through tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vandalized tombstones are seen at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Max Shandler walks through tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery, February 26, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. Police say more than 100 tombstones were vandalized a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump had been criticized for waiting until late February to deliver his first public condemnation of anti-Semitic incidents, previously speaking more generally about his hope of making the nation less "divided."

He later called such incidents "horrible ... and a very sad reminder" of the work needed to root out hate, prejudice and evil.

The majority of anti-Semitic incidents were not carried out by organized extremists and should be seen in the context of a general resurgence of U.S. white supremacist activity, said Oren Segal, director of the League's Center on Extremism.

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St. Louis Jewish cemetery vandalized
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St. Louis Jewish cemetery vandalized
Local and national media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
A row of more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones is seen after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
An American flag still stands next to one of over 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spencer Pensoneau, Ron Klump and Philip Weiss (L-R), of Weiss and Rosenbloom Monument company, work to right toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
People view toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
A crew from Weiss&Rosenbloom Monument company work to right toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
A row of more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones is seen after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
A visitor checks on her families plot after more than 170 Jewish headstones were toppled after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tom Gannam
A University City police car patrols in front of Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 where almost 200 gravestones were vandalized over the weekend in St. Louis. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
Spencer Pensoneau, left, Ron Klump and Philip Weiss of Rosenbloom Monument Company re-set stones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 where almost 200 gravestones were vandalized over the weekend in St. Louis. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
People walk through toppled graves at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 where almost 200 gravestones were vandalized over the weekend. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
People search for loved ones' graves at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 where almost 200 gravestones were vandalized over the weekend in St. Louis. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
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"Anti-Semitism is not the sole domain of any one group, and needs to be challenged wherever and whenever it arises," Segal said in a statement.

Among 34 election-linked incidents cited by the ADL was graffiti posted in Denver in May 2016 that exhorted readers to "Kill the Jews, Vote Trump."

The League also noted an incident from November when an assailant told a victim in St. Petersburg, Florida: "Trump is going to finish what Hitler started."

Technology that makes it easier to conduct harassment anonymously contributed to the rising numbers, the ADL said.

Michael Ron David Kadar, an 18-year-old Israeli-American, has been charged with making dozens of bomb threats to Jewish community centers in the United States earlier this year. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)

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