There has been a rise of anti-Semitism in our country. Anti-Semitism has also been on the rise in Europe, but in the U.S., it has taken a different form — Trump supporters.
The Anti-Defamation League, when conducting a report on Twitter of anti-Semitic threats to Jewish reporters, found that 2.6 million anti-Semitic messages were posted on Twitter from August 2015 to July 2016. Of those, 19,253 were directed at journalists.
Of those 2.6 million threats, the words appearing most frequently in the Twitter profiles of the attackers were “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative” and “white.” The New York Times states that the report was “careful not to suggest that the Trump campaign ‘supported or endorsed’ the anti-Semitic attacks, but noted that many had been sent by his supporters.”
This online rhetoric is reflected in real life anti-Semitism, with real life consequences. Azi Paybarah at Politico writes, “There were 56 hate crimes reported in New York City as of Sunday, Feb. 12, up from just 31 incidents over the same time period last year, according to figures released today by the New York Police Department. The increase was led by a rise in anti-Semitic crimes, which jumped from 13 to 28. No other category of hate crime was in double digits.”
New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, has been outspoken on the cause of the uptick, claiming, “You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans, negatively, and not have some ramifications for that…obviously connected to the election.” His argument holds some weight to it. According to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, there has been a 115 percent increase in hate crimes reported in New York City since election day.
Whether or not President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric is the cause of the rise in hate crimes against religious minorities, he has continuously floundered when given the opportunity to denounce this type of behaviour. When asked by Jake Turx, a conservative Jewish journalist for Ami Magazine, what he and his administration would do to protect the Jewish communities from the rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric and vandalism, Trump said, “I’m the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
Many Jews thought Trump would be a staunch supporter of their faith, with his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law and grandchildren in the faith. They fear Trump missed the point of the question completely. Trump told Turx to sit down and berated him for not asking a simple question, claiming he lied. When asked about the incident later, Turx seemed disappointed he had not received a straight answer for what he felt was an important question for all American Jews.
Many Jews, Trump supporters or not, are scared for their safety and the safety of their families. During January of this year, 48 Jewish Community Centers (JCC) in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats. In a statement, the FBI said the bureau and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connections with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country.” Many parents are pulling their children out of programs and classrooms in wake of the threats. For each phone call made, more Jewish children must flee their once-safe community spaces and leave a key part of their faith.
In one bomb threat, recorded by the JCC to which it was placed, the terrorist stated “in a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered.” According to the FBI hate crime database, anti-Semitic hate crimes account for two times the crimes against the second biggest group, anti-Muslim hate crimes and more than all of the other religious hate crimes combined last year. Some Jewish leaders claim crimes are getting worse.
These bomb threats are only the latest in a long line of violence against Jewish communities and an accompanying silence from news outlets. Many claim the president, despite all his talk, doesn’t care enough to commit to any sort of condemnation of anti-Semitism specifically.