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More data is in: Spike in antisemitic hate crimes in May part of longer-term increase since 2016
The Anti-Defamation League has released its most complete set of data yet on antisemitic incidents from last month, and the numbers are not good. There were 251 incidents over the final three weeks in May, beginning with the outbreak of violence in the Middle East on May 11. This represents more than double the 117 incidents that occurred over the same period a year earlier—a jump of 115%. There were 305 incidents for the whole of May. Most disturbingly, there were 11 assaults from May 11 through the end of the month—seven of which had a clear connection to the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians—compared to zero during those weeks in 2020.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive officer, stated the following in an ABC News interview: "Clearly this was triggered by the fighting in the Middle East. Frustration about what was happening in the fighting, a degree of anger … then manifested into frustration and anger being directed at Jewish people here."
Even when considering instances where there was no indication of a connection to Israel or Zionism, there was still a jump of 15% compared to the total number of incidents during the same three-week period in 2020, the ADL found. In other words, the spike may not have been completely driven by people reacting to events in the Middle East.
It’s important to note that when Trump emerged as the Republican nominee in 2016, the number of antisemitic incidents shot up, ending a fourteen-year period of decline that had begun in 2001 (the top of the right-hand column of the graphic should read “2001-2015,” not “2001-2005”). The numbers climbed each year through 2019, and have remained at those high levels since.
Earlier this week, I posted an in-depth piece on this spike in antisemitic hate crimes, and on broader related matters, including antisemitic rhetoric coming from Republican elected officials and others on the right. The ADL report included incidents I hadn’t mentioned in that previous piece:
On May 22 in Manhattan, a Jewish man wearing a Star of David necklace was punched by a man who allegedly asked him, “What is that around your neck, does that make you a fucking Zionist?" And on May 24 a Jewish man in Las Vegas was assaulted by a stranger who said that Jews are “baby killers” who “are not going to exist” after they had a conversation about the Israel-Hamas conflict. [...]
Most of the 400+ anti-Israel rallies that took place between May 11 and May 31 were not characterized by antisemitism and thus are not included in these figures. However, there were noteworthy cases where antisemitism was expressed at anti-Israel rallies. During a May 15 rally in Washington, D.C., marchers chanted in Arabic, “Oh, Khaybar, Khaybar, oh you Jews, the army of Muhammad shall return.” The chant refers to the siege and subjugation of Jews of the town of Khaybar by the Prophet Muhammad and his army, and is an implicit threat towards Jews today. On May 22 during a rally in Philadelphia, a demonstrator was heard declaring, "Israel controls the media," a claim which is animated by and reinforces the antisemitic trope that Jews control the media.
In response to all these disturbing instances of antisemitism, 51 Holocaust survivors who serve as volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum issued the following statement:
We are seeing an alarming confluence of events that we never imagined we would witness in our adopted homeland. We cannot remain silent in the wake of the recent antisemitic attacks in cities and towns across the country. We know firsthand the danger of unchecked antisemitism. This targeted violence is happening as we also watch with great dismay a persistent and increasing tendency in American public life to invoke the Holocaust for the purpose of promoting another agenda.
It is deeply painful for us to see our personal history—the systematic destruction of our families and communities and murder of six million Jewish men, women, and children—exploited in this way. What we survived should be remembered, studied, and learned from, but never misused.
We thank those leaders in government and other sectors of American society, including business, academia, religious, and civic, who have forcefully rejected antisemitism and the misuse of the Holocaust in our national discourse. We call on all leaders and citizens to do the same.
In addition to the positive statements leaders across the political spectrum—including progressives—have made recently denouncing antisemitic hate crimes, and the positive steps taken by the Biden White House, it also matters greatly that Jewish Americans see attention being paid to these incidents in progressive social media and on sites like this one. That visibility is vitally important to demonstrating that we feel supported by our progressive allies.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)This content was created by a Daily Kos Community member. Make YOUR voice heard! Log in or create an account.