The Jewish cemetery Mt. Carmel in Philadelphia was vandalized on February 25, 2017. (Twitter: Stephanie [email protected])
Dozens of bomb threats have been called into Jewish institutions since early January, and scores of headstones at two Jewish cemeteries—one near St. Louis, the other in Philadelphia— were desecrated in February. But is there actually a rising tide of anti-Semitism in America?
Despite the threats and attacks, positive feelings between different American religious groups are on the rise, as measured in mid-to-late January by the well-respected and non-partisan Pew Foundation. Additionally, far more damaging anti-Semitic incidents took place throughout the preceding decade and a half than the ones garnering attention in recent weeks.
The scene outside the JCC in Nashville, Tenn., following a bomb threat Jan. 9. (YouTube.)
During the past two months, there have been nearly 100 documented acts of anti-Semitism across North America, including at least 90 bomb threats—mostly at Jewish community centers (JCCs)—and the two cemetery attacks.
Running parallel to these anti-Jewish hate crimes has been a groundswell of anger directed at President Donald Trump for allegedly failing to swiftly or sufficiently denounce anti-Semitism. Some critics have labeled the president an anti-Semite and claimed he is responsible for unleashing a wave of religious hatred.
In response, Trump and his spokespeople have been condemning the recent acts of anti-Semitism, using that specific phrase. The president began his speech to Congress Tuesday by calling attention to the “recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries.”
But is America witnessing a significant uptick in anti-Semitism, or just a surge in the attention paid to, and the reporting of, anti-Semitic incidents?
To answer that question, the incidents must first be appraised accurately. They are religious hate crimes, according to the FBI’s definition: “a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a religion.”
The past 18 years, however, have witnessed larger-scale crimes against Jewish institutions such as the following:
-In 1999, a white supremacist walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif., and fired 50 shots, wounding three children, a teenager and an adult. The shooter, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., was gunning for Jews.
-In 2006, Naveed Haq forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle facility, where he shot six people, murdering one of them.
-In April, 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. drove to the Overland Park JCC and the Village Shalom retirement home in Kansas, and fatally shot three people. Miller hoped to kill Jews by targeting Jewish institutions, but his victims happened to be Christians.
The recent bomb threats, none of which were followed by actual attacks, are not a new phenomenon in the U.S., although the successive and coordinated hits on so many Jewish institutions in a relatively short period of time is in fact unprecedented.
Jewish cemeteries, meanwhile, have been occasionally vandalized for as long as they have existed. In December 2010, more than 200 headstones were knocked over, smashed and graffitied at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. Internet searches going back decades reveal dozens of Jewish cemetery desecrations, but the overwhelming majority of these attacks received minimal media attention and some were not reported at all. So why have the Philadelphia and St. Louis-area attacks proved different?
A security expert who deals exclusively with Jewish institutions, Jason Friedman of the Community Security Service (CSS), told JNS.org that given his historical perspective, he is not convinced that there has been “a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic events rather than a big increase in the reporting of and on such events.”
Friedman’s organization recently issued a detailed report documenting 45 years of anti-Semitic incidents. The 42-page chronology only catalogues shootings, arsons, explosive devices and hostage situations, and does not include hoax bomb threats and cemetery desecrations.
Two entries from 2016 in the CSS report are a foiled bombing attempt at an Aventura, Fla., synagogue in April and explosives thrown at the homes of two Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis in Rockland, N.Y. Although those acts caused actual property damage and were intended to inflict physical harm, even death, they received little media coverage.
The FBI has been compiling statistics on hate crimes since 1999. From 1999-2015, the most recent year for which data is available, Jews have always been the biggest target of religious hate crimes by a wide margin.
In 1999, Jews were on the receiving end of 76 percent of all religious hate crimes in America. That figure was 56.5 percent in 2001 and 65.3 percent in 2002. No other religion suffered half as many hate crimes as Jews during those years. Jews have been the targets of between 500 and more than 1,000 hate crimes every year since the FBI began its documentation.
While news headlines and politicians decry the “rising tide” of hatred against Jews, the Pew Foundation’s recently published report—“Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups”—belies such claims. Between June 2014 and January 2017, according to the study, non-Jewish Americans’ feelings toward Jews grew warmer, from 63 “degrees” to 67 degrees. The survey was conducted from Jan. 9-23, 2017.
Friedman, meanwhile, said he sees a silver lining in the possible uptick in the reporting of anti-Semitic incidents—that it encourages Jewish institutions to be forward-thinking and proactive.
Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/84489/rising-tide-american-anti-semitism-surge-incident-reporting/#Yy5cBOjf0WAcJQRe.99
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.