Hate crimes against Arabs, Jews hit record in 1990, 2 organizations say

February 07, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Crimes of hate against Arabs and Jews rose to record levels in 1990, Arab-American and Jewish organizations said in separate reports yesterday.

Arab-American leaders said ethnic animosities against Arabs in the United States had been aggravated by events such as the tensions in the Persian Gulf that led to war.

Jewish leaders cited a mixture of factors, including a worsening economy, anti-Israel attitudes by some Americans and a loosening of social restraints on expressions of hatred, exemplified by the verbal assaults of the comedian Andrew Dice Clay and the graphically violent lyrics of musical groups such as 2 Live Crew.

The reports listed thousands of acts against Arabs and Jews, from the slaying of Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in November to gunshots fired into the car of a Palestinian family in Kansas City in September.

The groups issuing the reports were the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the largest Arab-American rights organization in the United States; and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a human rights organization established to combat anti-Semitism.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said that it had logged fewer than five anti-Arab incidents before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait Aug. 2 but more than 40 complaints by the end of the year.

"The crisis in the Persian Gulf produced a sharp level of public hostility toward Arabs and Arab-Americans," the report said.

Albert Mokhiber, president of the group, said no clear patterns of harassment had emerged to explain which Arab-Americans were likely to be victimized. "It is as though Arabs are put into one bag and shaken up and one is picked out to be targeted," he said.

The group also released an updated summary of anti-Arab acts since January, after the war began. It said it logged nearly 60 incidents, including threatening phone calls, assaults and an arson fire.

In its report, the Anti-Defamation League said that its nationwide survey of incidents against Jews rose for the fourth straight year to 1,685.

The report noted a "particularly troubling" increase of bias-related incidents on college campuses. "Anti-Semitic and racist attacks are particularly troubling when they occur in a university environment devoted to respect for diverse ideas, people and cultures," said Abraham H. Foxman, the national director.

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