Antisemitism and Hate Crimes
In 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue on Shabbat, shouting his desire to kill Jews and killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. This tragic day was followed by attacks in other cities. These acts of violence do not exist in a vacuum. Hate is on the rise towards so many marginalized communities, exemplified by the anti-immigrant 2019 attack in El Paso. According to the FBI Hate Crimes Statistics (required under the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act), violent hate crimes are increasing.
Most nationwide surveys released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) over the past 25 years consistently indicate between 11 and 14 percent of Americans harbor antisemitic views. As the Holocaust falls further from recent memory, hate remains. American millennials lack knowledge of the Holocaust and Across the globe, 1.09 billion people hold antisemitic attitudes and 35 percent of people have never heard of the Holocaust.
Why Should Jews Care?
In the Holiness Code, in Leviticus, we are commanded both that "You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself" (Leviticus 19:17-18) and that "You may not stand idly by when your neighbor's blood is being shed? (Leviticus 19:16).
We are also taught, in the very beginning of the Torah, that "God created man in God's own image, in the image of God () God created him; male and female God created them" (Genesis 1:27). Judaism consistently teaches the importance of tolerance and the acceptance of others, even those different from ourselves. Even more than simply preaching tolerance, we must actively work to improve, open, and make safer our communities.
According to the FBI, hate crimes increased by an alarming 17 percent in 2017, including a 37 percent rise in hate crimes targeting Jews. Despite multiple state and federal hate crime statutes, many law enforcement agencies lack the resources and training to identify and respond to hate crimes. By providing federal grants to modernize reporting systems, establish state hotlines, and train law enforcement officers, the NO HATE Act of 2019 (S.2043) will promote more accurate data collection and assist victims of hate.
During a Shabbat morning worship on October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The Jewish community once again mourned together on Saturday, April 27, 2019, when one person lost her life and multiple people were injured as a result of a gunman at the Chabad of Poway. Followed by attacks against Jews in Jersey City, New York City, and Monsey. These acts of violence do not exist in a vacuum.
While hate crime laws cannot eliminate bigotry, legislation serves as a deterrent to those individuals who choose to act on their hatred by imposing stricter penalties against the perpetrators of these crimes.
Antisemitism is on the rise in North America and around the world, showcased in the annual ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Acts. Violent attacks on Jewish institutions and Jews are also increasing.
Bias and violence against the Muslim community is a growing, insidious issue in the United States. The number of assaults against Muslims in 2016 surpassed the modern peak reached in 2001, following the September 11th terrorist attacks, and incidents of anti-Muslim intimidation continue to rise, as well.
Related Press Releases
Joint Statement from the URJ, CCAR, RA, USCJ, RRA and Reconstructing Judaism on Solidarity with the ADL and the Importance of Coalitions for Justice
Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes New House Resolution on Anti-Semitism, Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Bigotry
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