Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hate Crime Victims - Jews & Muslims

The FBI has put up on its website all of the Hate Crime Statistics reports since 1996. I took a look at all of them for the purpose of comparing the hate crimes reported against Jews and Muslims over that time period, and discovered that there is a big change in the number of crimes against Muslims in 2001 - which is no surprise. I assume that most of them were committed after the 9/11/01 attacks. The level of hate crimes against Muslims drops in subsequent years, but remains higher than the pre-2001 rate.

Because I can't figure out how to put a table into this posting, I'll give the statistics this way:

For the entire period of 1996-2006, the average number of crimes against persons (Jews) was 408, with the highest year being 2002 (485). The largest number by far of such crimes were intimidation, followed by simple assault and then aggravated assault.

For this same period, the average number of crimes against property (Jewish) was 684, with the highest being 775 in 1996. The largest number by far of such crimes were damage/destruction/vandalism.

For Muslims over the same period, I've broken it down into pre-2001 and post-2001 periods. Pre-2001, the average number of crimes against persons (Muslims) was 19. Against Muslim property it was 11.4.

Post-2001, the average number of crimes against persons (Muslims) was 153, with the highest year being 2001, with 389. Of those, 296 were intimidation, 27 were aggravated assault, and 66 were simple assault. Post 2001, the average number of crimes against property (Muslim) was 79, with the highest figure also being in 2001, with 155.

From a comparison of these statistics we can see that in all of these years, numbers of property crimes against Jews exceeded crimes against persons (Jews) by 63% to 37%. For Muslims pre-2001, the ratio was the opposite: property crime was 37%, crimes against persons was 63%. Post-2001 the ratio is almost the same: 66% against persons, 34% against property.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More on hate crime statistics

Arash Kamangir has some good questions on his blog about the latest FBI statistics. He pointed out that to make a true comparison between anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hate crimes, we would have to scale the results by population.

Wikipedia provides a useful survey of population estimates for American Jews, ranging from about 6.4 to 7.4 million according to the latest surveys.

It is harder to figure out how many American Muslims there are. One estimate, which I found on the "Islam 101" website estimates that as of 1991 there were between 5 and 8 million Muslims in the U.S.

The Religious Tolerance website provides estimates from several surveys. The numbers range from about 1.6 million to 12 million. The first four estimates, which are based on survey research, range up to a high of 2 million - as of 2000/2001.

An interesting article by Jane I. Smith on the U.S. State Department website gives estimates of from 2 million to 7 million. Smith is a well-respected scholar of Islamic studies who teaches at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. She remarks:

It is very difficult to estimate the precise number of Muslims currently living in the United States. Muslims tend to put the number somewhat higher than non-Muslim scholars and demographers; the estimated figures range widely - from around two million in one study to as many as seven million. There are several reasons for the varying estimates. First, because the U.S. Constitution mandates a separation of church and state that is reflected in American law, U.S. Census Bureau survey forms do not ask recipients about their religion. Neither does the U.S. Immigration Service collect information on the religion of immigrants. Many mosques in the United States do not have formal membership policies, and they seldom keep accurate attendance figures. In the words of University of Chicago religion scholar Martin Marty, "Counting noses has come to depend on two sources. One source is poll-takers calling during the dinner hour to ask, `What is your religious preference?' The other source is religious leaders, on both the local and the national scene. People who respond to telephone interviewers may have all kinds of motives for declaring themselves as part of this or that group, or no group at all. And people who report on the size of their congregations, denominations, and cohorts also have a variety of motives." The end result is that there is no official count of Muslims in the United States nor is there a number that is commonly accepted by all who have studied the question.

When I originally wrote, I had the higher estimates of Muslim population in the U.S. in mind - about 6 million in fact - so I thought that the comparative figures for Jews and Muslims victimized by hate crimes were roughly proportional by population, thus meaning that Jews were victimized more by hate crimes than Muslims. However, if we compare the lower estimates of Jewish population (6.4 million) with the lower estimate of Muslim population (2 million), then we get a different picture, as Arash points out.

And the hate crime statistics are not the only way to measure prejudice. Another way is to measure whether people would vote for a person of a particular religion. In a 2006 poll done by Rasmussen Reports, 61% of likely voters said that they would not vote for a Muslim candidate. 43% said that they would not vote for a Mormon candidate. 60% said they would not vote for an atheist. Unfortunately, this poll didn't ask about Jewish candidates.

The latest ADL poll on anti-semitic attitudes shows that 15% of the American population holds strongly anti-semitic beliefs. A 1999 Gallup poll reported that only 6% would refuse to vote for a Jewish candidate for President.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2006 Hate Crime Statistics

The FBI has released the report on 2006 Hate Crime Statistics, and it is very interesting to examine those hate crimes based on the religious identity of the victim. Of the 9080 hate crimes, 1597 were motivated by religion, and of those 1027 were anti-Jewish (64% of crimes based on religion of victim; 11% of total hate crimes). 191 were anti-Muslim (11%; 2% of total hate crimes).

Specific crimes against persons:

aggravated assault
anti-Jewish: 22
anti-Muslim: 24

simple assault
anti-Jewish: 58
anti-Muslim: 30

anti-Jewish: 244
anti-Muslim: 79

Specific crimes against property:

anti-Jewish: 1
anti-Muslim: 1

anti-Jewish: 13
anti-Muslim: 0

anti-Jewish: 672
anti-Muslim: 51

Thus, in the most serious category of crimes against persons (aggravated assault), the number of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim offenses is almost identical, but in all other categories, especially intimidation and destruction/damage/vandalism, the number of incidents directed against Jews is far larger. It strikes me that these figures belie the claim that Islamophobia is a much greater danger than anti-semitism in the United States. If that were true, it would mean that far more Muslims than Jews would be victims of hate crimes.

Of all groups in the American population, blacks are the group with the highest number of hate crimes against them: 3136 (34%), then whites (1008; 11%), then Jews (11%), then gay men (881; 10%), and then Hispanics (770; 8%). From these statistics, we can see that the hatreds rampant in the United States are really the old tried and true ones - anti-black racism, anti-semitism, homophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments.


I was just looking again at the FBI statistics - they are by no means complete, because some cities and states have no reporting of hate crimes. Look, for example, at the state of Alabama. There is only one hate crime reported for the entire state for 2006. For comparison, compare the reporting for New Jersey: a total of 759 hate crimes. There are no statistics whatsoever for Mississippi, for another example. According to the FBI website, however, the agencies reporting on hate crimes in their jurisdictions represent 85% of the U.S. population (255 million people).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jerusalem on Google Earth

Some more Google Earth images. The first one is of the neighborhood I've lived in Jerusalem - Emek Refaim. The second is of the Old City - you can see the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock on the right hand side of the photo.

Google Earth image - Liepaja

I was using Google Earth yesterday and found the city of Liepaja, Latvia - I was trying to find the street (Barena iela) that my grandfather's uncle and aunt had lived on before the Nazi invasion in 1941. I wasn't able to find it - perhaps it's too small a street to be marked on the map yet - but I did wander around Liepaja (virtually). And then today I discovered that it's possible to save a JPEG of Google Earth images. I've got a shot of a residential area of Liepaja from the air.

North of the city, along the sea, is a memorial to the Jews murdered at the Skede dunes in December of 1941 (likely including my grandfather's aunt). This is is the location of the dunes.

And go to this photo to see picture of the memorial itself.

Rita Bogdanova has written a moving memoir of her return to Liepaja after so many years. It includes a photo of the Skede dunes.

Brian Friedman wrote an account of what happened at the killing fields of Skede (warning - graphic photographs) as well as about his visit to Liepaja and attendance at the dedication of the Skede memorial in 2005. He also has more pictures of the dunes and of the memorial itself.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

House Approves Ban on Anti-Gay Discrimination

When I was at the gym earlier today I was watching CNN and they were reporting something about the House bill to ban anti-gay discrimination in employment - but I didn't realize that the House had passed the bill today, 235-184. It now goes to the Senate, where it will also hopefully pass.

House Approves Ban on Anti-Gay Discrimination - New York Times: "The House approved a bill this evening granting broad protections against discrimination in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, a measure that supporters praised as the most important civil rights legislation since the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 but that opponents said would result in unnecessary lawsuits."

Pretty amazing. I remember in the mid-1970s that when the first open lesbian, Elaine Noble, was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, she received a great deal of abuse on the floor of the House from other representatives. Noble said in a recent interview that once she was elected, "It really got harder in terms of the threats and being a target that was readily available to people." It is quite astonishing how far we have come in thirty years.

Reply to McGowan

The The Ithaca Journal just published my letter in reply to McGowan, I'm happy to say.

Those who call themselves “Holocaust revisionists” do not make use of the accepted canons of historical research and analysis — they distort physical evidence (for example, by claiming that the gas chambers at Auschwitz were not used for the murder of human beings) and misuse documentary evidence (for example, by misquoting sources or using partial quotations of German documents that refer to the mass murders of Jews). It is thus very appropriate to call them deniers and not mere “revisionists.”

“Revisionist conclusions are despised” not because they contradict the “Holocaust story” but because they are false and tendentious misreadings of history. Those who engage in such “revisionism” are motivated by virulent anti-semitism, as one can tell by inspecting the Web sites of Holocaust deniers such as Ernst Zundel or the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. Hidden behind the letter's anti-Israel claims is a typical anti-semitic contention — that unchecked Jewish power forced the U.S. to invade Iraq. This letter deserves to be dismissed by the intelligent readers of The Ithaca Journal.

It's satisfying to see my response to his nonsense in print.