Not too long ago, I wrote an article on Black/Asian Solidarity United Against a Common Foe: Racism. The piece highlighted the coming together of Blacks and Asians in light of the brutal attacks against Asians throughout the city and the interconnectivity of the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements. Now, or should I say once again, hate crimes have reared their ugly head, but this time, against Jews. As if we don’t have enough to worry about when it comes to safety, these attacks are rampant in and around the world, especially in NYC where I reside. These attacks are real, and people are being targeted for no other reason than they are Jewish.
Anti-Semitism is rising in America. From California to New York, a wave of anti-Semitic attacks has broken out in communities over the last two weeks, leaving officials in law enforcement and government scrambling to confront the domestic ripple effects of the recent outbreak in violence between Israel and Hamas. Authorities are investigating assaults in New York and Los Angeles as tensions flare over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid days of violence in Gaza that have left hundreds of people dead.
What is Anti-Semitism and What Does History Tell Us About It?
The history of antisemitism is defined as hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group. Now, like many acts of hate, anti-Semitism didn’t just start in the 20th century or the 21st century. Anti-Semitism has its roots that dating back many centuries.
Jerome Chanes, in his book Anti-Semitism: A Reference Handbook, identifies six stages in the historical development of antisemitism. Here are some:
- Pre-Christian anti-Judaism in Ancient Greece and Rome which was primarily ethnic in nature
- Christian antisemitism in antiquity and the Middle Ages which was religious in nature and has extended into modern times
- Political, social, and economic antisemitism during the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Europe which laid the groundwork for racial antisemitism
- Racial antisemitism that arose in the 19th century and culminated in Nazism
Data on Anti-Semitic Incidents
In its 2020 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, the Anti-Defamation League reports D.C. saw a 126% increase in incidents compared to the year before. When it comes to incidents of antisemitism, new data revealed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) showed the D.C. region is heading in the wrong direction.
Hate crimes in New York City skyrocketed during the first few months of 2021. Data showed that hate crimes were on a steady rise from January to February, but quickly shot up to more than 50 incidents in March. New York City has the highest number of hate crimes in the nation. NYPD says Asian-Americans were the most targeted group with 80 hate crimes from the start of the year through May 2; Jews were the next most attacked, with 54 incidents reported between January 1st and May 2, 2021. The Wall Street Journal reported that the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force recorded 180 hate crimes through May 2nd, seeing a 73% rise in hate crimes in NYC.
The Anti-Defamation League said that in the week after the fighting erupted, it received 193 reports of possible anti-Semitic violence, up from 131 a week earlier.
Motivation Behind Hate Crimes
Perpetrators of hate crimes are not always motivated by a single type of prejudice or hatred but can be influenced by a combination of different hates and prejudices. Research shows that some of the most common types of hate crime involve: 1. Incidents that occur during an ongoing local conflict that has escalated over time; 2. Incidents that form part of a targeted campaign of abuse directed against certain individuals within a neighborhood; or 3. Incidents that occur in public spaces and are perpetrated by individuals who feel somehow aggrieved by the victim. In my opinion, the latter could be an example such as Covid-19 and its alleged connection to Asian people. Motivation also includes thrill-seekers who are driven by thrill and excitement.
Acts of Violence Against Jews
Here are a few of many attacks that have occurred in NYC of the past weeks:
- Dueling pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed in Times Square, where protesters from both demonstrations broke out into brawls spilling over into the surrounding blocks, where Jews were assaulted in the street.
- In one of the most shocking images to come out of New York City, Joseph Borgen, 29, was beaten by a group of people shouting anti-Semitic statements in the middle of the street as he lay on the ground. A video recorded by a bystander shows several people kicking a man on the ground and hitting him with unidentified objects. People in the group shouted expletives about Jews and Israel.
- In the Diamond District, a heavily Jewish business district in midtown Manhattan, someone was burned when two fireworks were thrown from a car amid an altercation involving pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
In Los Angeles, there was an anti-Semitic attack on diners. Pro-Palestinians attacked a group of men they believed to be Jewish who were dining on the sidewalk outside. Cellphone video showed a group of men getting out of a car and starting to attack them while yelling anti-Semitic slurs.
And, in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, an Orthodox Jewish man is seen being chased through a parking lot by a caravan of people waving Palestinian flags.
What’s the Resolution?
Hate crimes are a violation of all we hold sacred as Americans. Hate-motivated crimes are an attack on the fabric of the society of this United States and the ideals of diversity and respect. We should fearlessly take up the fight against all hate crimes. Al Sharpton said it best when he stated, and I’m paraphrasing, we can’t fight for George Floyd and ignore hate crimes of victims.
On February 23, 2021, the House introduced (H.Res.153 — 117th Congress) a resolution. This resolution condemns all manifestations of expressions of racism and anti-Asian and Pacific Islander or ethnic intolerance. In short, the resolution calls on federal law enforcement officials, working with state and local officials, to expeditiously and vigorously investigate all reports of hate crimes and threats against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Yes, this is great.
However, there shouldn’t be a Race-by-Race resolution, but a unified resolution that protects all people from being a victim of a hate crime. A complete resolution would include condemning hate crimes and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, and evil in all forms. In doing so, hold the perpetrators of those crimes, incidents, or threats accountable and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Until we get it right, I must ask, Hate-motivated victimization – Who\’s next?