Alert for increase in hate and prejudice crimes in New York: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Orthodox Jewish and Hispanic Jewish families live together harmoniously in Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Photo: Fernando Martinez / Impremedia

Again this year, International Holocaust Remembrance Day finds “liberal” New York in negative numbers for tolerance and hate crimes.

“On January 27, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and ratifies its commitment to fight against anti-Semitism, racism and all other forms of intolerance that can lead to violent acts against certain human groups,” says the portal. of the organization on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In particular, the Asian and Jewish communities have reported a rise in attacks against them in various parts of the US, including New York, with even cases of killings and beatings apparently motivated by race or religious orientation.

At the beginning of last December, NYPD reported a 100% increase in reported hate crimes in general, not counting those not reported. Anti-Asian cases rose 361% (from 28 in 2020 to 129 in 2021); anti-LGBT increased 193% (from 29 victims to 85); and Jewish attacks, which were already the highest in frequency (121 in 2020) rose 51%, to add 183 cases in 2021, he summarized ABCNews.

Jews are the most targeted religious community in the US. and since 2016 they have been the target of at least 21 extremist plots or credible threats across the country. The situation worries experts such as Alexander Rosenberg, Venezuelan-born lawyer and regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in New York and Jersey. Already in 2019 and 2020, that organization had warned that NY is the state with the most hate attacks on Jews in the entire country.

-In the last two years in NY, the attacks on the Asian community have been more violent than the anti-Semites. Any reason behind it?
-We are very sorry to see the hate incidents against the Asian community, and we send our words of encouragement to all the victims, their families and the community in general. However, each incident is isolated and generalizing about the severity would be unfair to the victims. Last week in Texas a kidnapper held a rabbi and three of his parishioners for more than 11 hours in a synagogue; in December 2019, the Jersey City (NJ) massacre and the Monsey (NY) stabbing occurred; In March of that year there was the Powey (California) massacre and in October 2018 we saw with horror how 11 parishioners were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Each of these incidents has marked the community indelibly. Behind each one there are different stories, just like there are with the dozens of physical attacks that have been experienced in the state of New York against Jews during the last 3 to 4 years.

-Why do you think there has been an uptick in hate crimes in general in NYC and specifically towards Jews? This despite the fact that NY is markedly the territory of the Democratic party, which promotes tolerance and diversity.
-There are a significant number of intervening factors, the rebound begins in 2016. Between 2013 and 2020 the number of incidents of anti-Semitism in the US has tripled. These range from the political polarization and the incendiary rhetoric that they have used from both sides of the spectrum political, going through the hate advocated and not filtered by social networks, issues of social discord and even mental health. During the pandemic, the origin of the virus has been unfairly and not truthfully attributed to the Asian population, and the Jewish population – also unfairly and not truthfully – to spread the virus due to a perceived lack of compliance with control standards. This has led to a generalization by the population that is not able to see beyond prejudices and generalizations. We have tried to show that each individual acts autonomously and we should not attribute the isolated actions of that individual to a group to which an individual is perceived to belong.

“Likewise, it is also worth noting the difficulties that the pandemic has brought with it, from an economic point of view and life limitations. There is therefore a tendency to look for scapegoats in minorities and marginalized populations, and hate crimes and incidents based on prejudice are one more manifestation of this”, added Rosenberg, a graduate of UCAB (Caracas) and Columbia University (NYC), and also “Menachem Begin Fellow” at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

-What is the Jewish community doing to prevent anti-Semitism in the tri-state area? Different strategy than in Europe and the Middle East?
-Our organization (ADL), for which I can speak, tries to educate against all prejudices through educational programs at more than 300 colleges in New York State. It also requests that all public servants stand up against any hate incident; and builds bridges of friendship with community leaders to create incentives for social dialogue. Also, through our Center for Technology and Society, we have lobbied for social media companies implement the necessary controls and regulations so that hatred does not percolate towards our children and society in general. Through our Center for the Study of Extremism we have studied and warned society about the Harmful Effects of Propaganda and Conspiracy Theories, all of them associated with anti-Semitism, hatred and prejudice. Finally we call on everyone to become ambassadors against hatewherever they are.