The rise in antisemitic incidents nationwide represents only a portion of actual incidents, most of which are not being reported to law enforcement agencies. To provide an accurate depiction of anti-Semitism, Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, participated earlier last month at the FBI Newark Field Office’s “Protecting Our Communities Together” national awareness campaign aimed at promoting the reporting of hate crimes and discrimination to federal authorities.
“Too many people within our community treat the hate and discrimination they experience as an expected part of life. Until we learn to report these regular incidents as they occur, our law enforcement authorities won’t be able to pursue the culprits, nor will meaningful change occur,” Rabbi Hauer said. “The OU welcomes the opportunity to partner with the FBI in this awareness campaign, and we hope that those who experience hate crimes and discrimination will report these incidents.”
Nathan Diament, Director of the OU Advocacy Center, spoke of his organization’s relationship with federal agencies in combating hate. “The press conference in Newark launched a new public awareness campaign to encourage reporting incidents. With better reporting and documentation, it helps in our advocacy for allocating resources.”
One such example is nonprofit security grants provided by the Department of Homeland Security to provide security training and technology for institutions in communities that are experiencing hate incidents.
On the Anti-Defamation League’s map of antisemitic incidents nationwide in the past year, local examples include a swastika on a synagogue in Rego Park, hateful graffiti on a Jewish-owned property in Forest Hills, a Jewish man in Rego Park whose attacker yelled anti-Jewish slurs, and library books vandalized with anti-Jewish phrases at public and college libraries. The organization noted that anti-Semitic incidents spiked this past summer, when Israel was involved in a war.
“At times of unrest or violence between Israel and armed terrorist groups, we have historically seen a spike in antisemitic incidents; but this year the surge was particularly dramatic and violent,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a statement. “This activity has affected more than specific individuals targeted; American Jews broadly are feeling less secure than before, and they believe strongly that our leaders need to do more to prevent further incidents.”
Although Jews make up less than two percent of the country’s population, the FBI reported that in 2020, 57.5 percent of reported hate incidents across the country targeted Jews. At the same time, much of the public attention remains focused on anti-Black bias, and the recent uptick of attacks on Asian Americans.
When a victim of a crime visibly appears as Jewish and the crime scene is outside of a yeshivah, there is a presumption of anti-Semitism as the motive, but it is then compared to the totality of the evidence. The murder of yeshivah bachur Shmuel Silverberg on August 17 at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Denver was determined not to have a hate motive, as the five suspects had spent that day robbing a business, stealing a car, and shooting at another man.
The ADL’s “incidents tracker” notes not only the types of incidents and their locations, but also their coverage by news organizations. “The ADL is primary in collecting data and it is underreported in all communities,” Diament said. “It is true that anti-Semitic incidents have a disproportionate percentage among hate crimes.” Among the anti-Semitic crimes, the leading targets are Orthodox Jews on account of their outward appearance as Jews. “One thing that we’re more focused on are hate crimes against the Orthodox community, as there are unique aspects to it.”
By Sergey Kadinsky