Breaking News
More () »

13News Now Investigates: Antisemitism in Virginia

Some fear that recent anti-Jewish rhetoric from rapper Kanye West could lead to more hate crimes in America. We looked at the numbers in Virginia.

NORFOLK, Va. — Hate speech is in the spotlight after recent anti-Jewish remarks from Ye (Kanye) West.

Some fear his words will lead to more antisemitism, which is on the rise in America.

Adidas joins other companies who have cut ties with the artist.

But some, like Meredith Weisel from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), fear the damage is done.

"When something like this happens with Ye, he’s giving I would say, aid and comfort to something like White supremacists and other extremists," Weisel said. "They see it as encouragement, you know, an opportunity to spread their hate."

RELATED: 'He can be a racist but not guilty of insurrection' | Alleged white supremacist submits jury questions in Capitol riot case

The ADL found antisemitic cases hit an all-time high last year. 

Across the nation, it counted 2,700 cases of assault, harassment and vandalism, which was up 34% from 2020.

Virginia was the state with the 15th highest number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2021, according to the ADL. It documented 46 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in the Commonwealth.

There are efforts in the works to improve the situation, though. Earlier this year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin created the “Commission to Combat Antisemitism.”

That was in response to Virginians experiencing a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2020.

“People tend to ask the question: why is this happening? A lot of it is the politicization, the polarization, but it’s also the normalization. Things like antisemitism have become mainstream," Weisel said.

RELATED: 'It was just filth' | Antisemitic flyers distributed in Virginia Beach

In one recent mainstream and infamous example, a Capitol insurrectionist was caught on camera wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt.

FBI agents used that very outfit to track Robert Keith Packer to his home in Hampton Roads.

Surveillance from a Newport News gas station captured Packer wearing that same sweatshirt. He’s now serving 75 days in jail, with a release scheduled around Thanksgiving.

Both the ADL and the FBI believe many hate crimes go unreported. 

The FBI urges people to report any kind of hate crime by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or to submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov. You can remain anonymous. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out