Officials say hate crimes against Jews on the rise following violence in Gaza
In Skokie, Illinois, it was a broken window in a synagogue. In Bal Harbor, Florida, four men shouted âDie Jewâ at a man in a skullcap, then threatened to rape his wife and daughter. And in midtown Manhattan, it was a group of people attacking a Jew in the middle of the street in broad daylight.
From California to New York, a wave of anti-Semitic attacks has erupted in communities over the past two weeks, leaving law enforcement and government officials scrambling to deal with the domestic ripple effects of the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas.
Violence and odious rhetoric have come in person and online. The Anti-Defamation League said that in the week following the outbreak of the fighting, it received 193 reports possible anti-Semitic violence, up from 131 the previous week. On Twitter, the group said, it found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase “Hitler was right” between May 7 and 14.
“We are seeing a dangerous and drastic rise in anti-Jewish hatred,” said group CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. in a report last week just before the announced ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. He added: “For those who choose to indulge in age-old anti-Semitic tropes, exaggerated claims and inflammatory rhetoric, this has consequences: real-life attacks on real people targeted for no reason other than Jewish. . This is anti-Semitism, it is plain. And simple. And it is indisputably inexcusable in any context. ”
A ceasefire on Thursday put an end, however tenuous, to the fighting that left more than 230 people dead in Gaza and killed at least 12 people in Israel. Yet despite the violence breaking down, several of the nation’s most prominent Jewish organizations warn that the repercussions for Jews in the United States could be lasting.
“We fear that the way the conflict has been used to amplify anti-Semitic rhetoric, embolden dangerous actors and attack Jews and Jewish communities will have ramifications far beyond the past two weeks,” reads a letter. sent Friday to President Biden signed by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and the Hadassah women’s group.
The letter called on Biden, who helped negotiate the ceasefire, “to strongly denounce this dangerous trend and stand with the Jewish community in the face of this wave of hatred before it escalates.” .
Amnesty International has made a similar call to condemn the violence, saying anti-Semitism attacks “the very notion of universal human rights”.
“To intimidate worshipers in synagogues, degrade the Star of David, and use images and words that invoke anti-Semitic tropes is appalling and abusive, and when done in the name of protesting the actions of the Israeli government, to deny the motivations of the perpetrator and doing nothing to advance human rights, âAmnesty Executive Director Paul O’Brien said in a statement.
President Biden condemned violence against the Jewish community in a Twitter post on Monday, calling it âdespicableâ.
âI condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad – it’s up to all of us not to give hatred a safe haven,â Biden said.
The rise in violence has triggered hate crime investigations in several states. In New York, where the NYPD is strengthening its presence in Jewish communities, authorities are investigating Thursday’s attack near Times Square as a hate crime. They are also investigating another incident in which a 55-year-old woman was injured by what police described as an “explosive device”.
âThe anti-Semitism that we see across our country is not isolated and not just a few incidents. It’s part of a horrible, cohesive pattern. History teaches us that we ignore this pattern at our peril, âsaid Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday.
In Los Angeles, authorities say they are investigating an attack on Jewish diners outside a sushi restaurant by passers-by who were reportedly seen carrying Palestinian flags and heard on video shouting “F *** you “and” You should be ashamed of yourselves. “The screams soon turned violent, turning into kicks and punches. Salam Al-Marayat, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, condemned the incident, tell the Los Angeles Times the attackers “did not represent our community”.
“They did not represent any of our organizations, and they certainly do not represent the Palestinian cause which we believe is right,” Al-Marayat said.
The surge in anti-Semitic incidents comes at a time when such attacks were already high. In 2019, the Anti-Defamation League recorded more than 2,100 cases of assault, vandalism and harassment against Jews across the United States, most since tracking began in 1979. In 2020, the number was the third highest on record, Greenblatt told the Washington Post, even though the coronavirus shutdowns have kept millions of Americans at home.
The latest rise follows a familiar pattern of anti-Semitic hate crimes following violent episodes between Israel and the Palestinians. Since data collection began in 1992, some of the worst months of the past three decades have come in response to conflict in the region, according to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Muslims in the United States have also faced a series of hate incidents in recent weeks. In Brooklyn, a mosque was vandalized during the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan earlier this month with âDeath 2 Palestineâ graffiti. Police are also investigating incident at Long Island mosque Last week in which a Muslim religious flag was burnt and pro-Trump graffiti was spray painted on the base of the flag.
Speaking on CBS ‘ Face the nation On Sunday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the country’s foremost Jewish politicians, sought to frame the attacks as part of a larger problem of violence and hate facing the country.
“Anti-Semitism is increasing in America. It is increasing all over the world. It is a scandal. And we have to fight anti-Semitism,” Sanders said. âWe must fight against the increase in hate crimes in this country, against Asians, against African Americans, against Latinos. So we have a serious problem of a nation that is increasingly divided, led by right-wing extremists in that direction. ”