Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

Antisemitic hate crimes appear up in major cities this year

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Antisemitic hate crimes are trending higher this year in several major cities, and could surpass 2021 numbers — a possible record year,according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Why it matters: The White House has expressed alarm about rising antisemitic violence across the U.S. and a jump in racist and antisemitic social media posts, but collecting data is difficult because many police departments are failing to report hate crimes.

By the numbers: New York saw a preliminary count of 260 antisemitic crimes from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found. The city experienced 170 cases during the same period in 2021.

  • Los Angeles faced 80 antisemitic cases from January to Oct. 31, 2022, the center said. The nation's second-largest city experienced 71 during the same period in 2021.
  • Chicago saw 30 antisemitic episodes from January to Oct. 31, 2022, compared to eight in the same period last year.
  • Cases appear flat in Boston, Denver, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon.

The center collects hate crime stats from police data, state reports and open records requests.

Zoom out: The FBI said this week that anti-Jewish hate crimes declined significantly, with 396 incidents in 2021 compared to 959 in 2020.

Yes, but: The FBI hate crime report was based on data received from just 11,883 of the 18,812 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and excludes many large cities with high numbers of Jewish residents.

  • "Excluded in this report were cities you wouldn't exclude from major sports leagues," Brian Levin, director of the center, told Axios.
  • Levin said when you include antisemitic hate crimes in New York and Los Angeles, for example, the number of antisemitic hate crimes nationally in 2021 is around a record level. And 2022 could surpass that.

Zoom in: Antisemitic hate crimes have been rising in recent years, even in smaller states.

  • Wisconsin saw between 2015 and 2021 an almost a 500% increase in antisemitic episodes, Samantha Abramson, executive director of the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center in Milwaukee, told Axios.

Flashback: October marked the four-year anniversary of the attack at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, the deadliest assault on Jewish people in U.S. history.

  • Eleven people were killed and six were injured at the Pittsburgh synagogue on the morning of Oct. 27, 2018, when a gunman stormed the building in theattack that brought more attention to the nation's rising antisemitic violence.

Between the lines: Advocates say episodes of antisemitic violence spike around traditional Jewish holidays, events in the Middle East, or after antisemitic comments from celebrities or politicians.

  • Amy Asin, vice president and director of strengthening congregations for the Union of Reform Judaism, told Axios there was a lot of anxiety among members.
  • "People putting Hanukkah decorations or putting a menorah in their window … I would imagine there are people who have done that in the past and aren't doing it now."

State of play: The Biden administration announced last week a new interagency group charged with developing a national strategy to combat antisemitism amid a rising tide of vitriolic rhetoric spewed by high-profile public figures.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, warned of a "dramatic resurgence" of antisemitism at a conference this month after slamming former President Trump for dining with antisemitic rapper Ye and the white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate last month.

What's next: Advocates will be pushing that federal funding to police be tied to mandated annual reporting on hate crimes.

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