CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The number of antisemitic incidents statewide nearly tripled last year compared to the previous year, according to new findings from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL tracked 44 antisemitic incidents in South Carolina in 2022, a roughly 193% increase from the 15 tracked incidents in 2021. The 44 cases included 36 instances of harassment and eight instances of vandalism.

ADL’s H.E.A.T. map shows specific incidents of hate, extremism, antisemitism, and terrorism in South Carolina in 2022. Bubbles are sized based on the number of incidents with green being antisemitic incidents and blue being white supremacist propaganda. (ADL)

“Nobody is surprised that numbers have gone up,” Natanya Miller, Director of Educational Initiatives for Charleston Jewish Federation said, noting that she hears frequent reports of antisemitism in the state, especially in K-12 schools.

494 incidents were reported in non-Jewish K-12 schools across the U.S. last year, an increase of about 49%, according to the ADL’s audit.

“I work with a lot of Jewish students in grades seven through 12 and every single one that I work with has been at the receiving end of an antisemitic incident whether it’s a comment made to them in class by another student or it’s graffiti at school,” Miller shared.

One of those instances involved the discovery of graffiti including swastikas and threats directed at Jewish and Black people, in a South Carolina high school bathroom.

But, South Carolina is not the only state that saw a dramatic rise in hate targeting Jewish people. 192 incidents were reported across the southeastern region of the U.S. in 2022, a 120% increase from the year before.

“Whether you’re Jewish or not, the ongoing rise of antisemitic incidents in our region and nation should concern you,” Eytan Davidson, ADL Southeast’s Regional Director said. “We know trends like this signal increased bigotry overall, and that’s a reality that threatens the well-being and security in every community. It’s incumbent upon us all to combat hate together, especially when we see extremist activity on the rise.”

The ADL found that the surge can be partially attributed to “high volume increases in organized white supremacist propaganda activity,” including the use of fliers, posters, stickers, banners, and graffiti that convey antisemitic views.

This trend was observed in the Palmetto State in the last year, according to Miller, who pointed to the growth of the Goyim Defense League (GDL)– a white supremacist group whose overarching goal is to expel Jews from America.

“To that end, their propaganda casts aspersions on Jews and spreads antisemitic myths and conspiracy theories in hopes of turning Americans against the Jewish people,” the ADL audit reads. “GDL’s 2022 propaganda blames Jews for a variety of perceived social grievances, including immigration, pornography, and abortion.”

The group’s propaganda was recorded 492 times in 43 different states, 25 of which were recorded in South Carolina. Flyers containing such propaganda were littered around neighborhoods in Georgetown County, Surfside Beach, and Conway last summer.

“They were active across the country,” Miller said. “They had seven states that they were most active in and of those 7 states, 2 of them were in the Southeast and one of them was South Carolina.”

South Carolina’s spike in antisemitic incidents mirrors a national trend. According to the ADL, 3,697 incidents were recorded throughout the U.S. in 2022, the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking the data in 1979.

It is also the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded, a surge that ADL officials call “dramatic and completely unacceptable.”

“This data confirms what Jewish communities across the country have felt and seen firsthand — and corresponds with the rise in antisemitic attitudes,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said in a news release. “From white nationalists to religious fanatics to radical anti-Zionists, Jewish people see a range of very real threats. It’s time to stop the surge of hate once and for all.”

One way in which state leaders are working to curb hateful rhetoric and harassment against Jewish communities in South Carolina is by advocating for a hate crime bill. South Carolina is one of two states without hate crime laws on the books.

Earlier this month, the S.C. House passed the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act, which would enhance penalties for violent crimes fueled by hate and includes protections for race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.

Similar legislation passed the House in 2021 but stalled and died in the Senate.

“As we see these rates of antisemitism steadily increasing year after year, we’re also seeing rises in other forms of hate,” Miller explained. “South Carolina is viewed as friendly to hate groups because we don’t have a hate crime law. That is a first step in acknowledging that we as a state will not stand for this.”

But, according to Miller, there is a silver lining in the ADL’s findings.

“What it tells me is that people are feeling comfortable to report,” she said. “People would call us about incidents but weren’t willing to report them because they either didn’t know how to report them or they were worried about the backlash. So, we’ve made it easier for people to be able to report.”

To report an antisemitic or discriminatory incident to the Charleston Jewish Federation and the ADL, click here or contact Natanya Miller at