A year awash in anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic ended with a barbaric stabbing attack in Monsey on the seventh night of Chanukah, driving home the reality that even the “safest” Jewish communities are no longer immune from anti-Semitic attacks.
Experts have identified a disturbing pattern in government failure, both in the United States and Europe, to recognize escalating anti-Semitism as a serious problem and to tackle it at its roots.
The spike in anti-Semitic violence “barely registers in the West,” notes an unusually clear-eyed NY Times article. The writer says attacks are brushed off as “random bursts of bigotry perpetrated by hooligans lacking any organization or power behind them.”
In the same vein, violent anti-Semitic rhetoric is rationalized as “a misunderstanding, or ignored as a mistake or played down as a slip of the tongue. Or waved away as ‘just anti-Zionism.’”
The refusal to recognize the grave dimensions of anti-Semitism is a “moral calamity” sweeping the West, rooted in “the cheapening of Jewish blood,” the article contends.
In a news conference following the Monsey stabbing attack, N.Y. State Governor Andrew Cuomo described the spate of anti-Jewish violence in the New York region and across the United States as “domestic terrorism.”
“Just because the perpetrators don’t come from another country doesn’t mean they are not terrorists. They should be prosecuted as domestic terrorists.” The governor added that he would call for a law in the state to prosecute such crimes.
“This is a national phenomenon that we are seeing, and it’s frightening and it’s disturbing,” he continued. “If anyone thinks that something poisonous is not going on in this country, then they’re in denial.”
Experts note that anti-Semitic violence has been rising in this country for years. The incidents have become so numerous, people have lost count of the victims and the circumstances. A brief review of some of the worst episodes in the past two years recaptures the forgotten horror.
In 2018, a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 congregants, and wounding six others. It was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.
Still reeling from that massacre, American Jews were struck again, this time during Pesach. A gunman opened fire on Jews at prayer inside a Chabad shul in Poway, Ca., killing 60 year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and wounding Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. Heroic actions by the rabbi and other shul members prevented a worse bloodbath.
The shooter declared he was “defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all White people.”
In November 2019, the FBI arrested a 27-year-old white supremacist before he could bomb Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado and continue his plans to poison the synagogue’s drinking water.
Jews Beaten on Streets of
Beatings of Jews, particularly in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Borough Park, has drawn national attention but scant action has been taken by politicians in response to the assaults.
On Aug. 27, Rabbi Avraham Gopin was struck with a large rock knocking out two teeth and breaking his nose.
On Aug. 29, a block of ice was thrown into the driver’s side of a truck, striking the visibly Jewish driver in the eye. Three days later, a young Jewish man walking home from synagogue was cursed by an attacker and whipped with a belt.
On Sept. 18, a Chasidic man was chased down a street by four thugs who punched and kicked him.
On Oct. 12, a Jewish man was struck by a man on a bike who called him “dirty Jew.”
On Nov. 1, three attacks were carried out in one night in Borough Park, as several men jumped out of a car and punched Orthodox Jewish men and boys.
Nov. 10, a visibly Jewish woman was attacked by egg throwers.
These and a rash of additional attacks in recent weeks has left the Jewish community in the New York area deeply unsettled.
In the Jersey City debacle this month, two members linked to a known hate group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, went on a violent rampage, killing three people inside the store before being killed themselves.
Surveillance footage and the amount of ammunition and heavy firearms the killers were found to have been carrying betrayed their true target: the Jewish kindergarten a few feet past the deli that hosted 50 children. Only quick and heroic action taken by police prevented an even greater massacre.
On Dec. 23, a 28-year-old man punched and kicked a 65-year-old in midtown Manhattan while yelling anti-Semitic slurs, police said. Steven Jorge was charged with assault in the second degree as a hate crime.
Later that week, a visibly Jewish woman was walking with her 3-year-old son in Gravesend, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, when she was approached by Ayana Logan, officials said.
Logan, 42, whacked the 34-year-old mother in the head, officials say, and delivered an ominous message: “You filthy Jew. Your end is coming to you.”
Perpetrators Escape Consequences
A day later, a woman identified as Tiffany Harris slapped three Orthodox women in the face and head in Crown Heights. Harris admitted her actions to authorities, telling them she did it because the women were Jewish. “I cursed them out,” Harris told officers taking her into custody.
Despite her admission of guilt, the woman was released a few days later without bail, the result of a new bail reform legislation just passed into law, the New York Post reported.
Most disturbingly, part of the pattern in many recent anti-Semitic incidents is that no serious consequences have been meted out to the perpetrators. In some cases, no arrests have been made.
The violent assault on a chasidic man in Monsey earlier this month that left the victim lying half-dead in front of a shul, is illustrative of anti-Semitic crimes that have been wiped off the radar, ignored by the mainstream press after a day or two of breathless coverage.
Is it possible this heinous crime left a cold trail? Shouldn’t the Jewish community be made aware, at least in general terms, of the results or progress of an investigation into the crime? Why the bizarre silence, as if all is well?
One of the women who were attacked in the most recent Crown Heights incident voiced anger over the failure of law enforcement to deliver any form of justice, even after the assailant acknowledged her unprovoked violence.
It’s “a win for the criminals, and a big fail for the protection of the vulnerable targets they’re going after,” said Dalia Shusterman, adding that to her, the authorities’ broader failure to adequately protect the Jewish community signaled bias.
“Is it because we are stereotyped as oppressors and therefore not worthy of societal protection the same as other minorities?” she asked. “There are too many voices encouraging this very specific hatred and not enough efforts to call it out as the evil that it is.”
to Harm Israel
In a list of the ten worst anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents in 2019 from all over the world, released last week by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Germany’s backstabbing of Israel in the UN ranks as number seven.
Germany is now in the midst of an 18-month stint on the UN Security Council, the Wiesenthal Center noted in its report. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly proclaims her support for Israel’s security, her words ring hollow as German ambassador to the UN, Christoph Heusgen, continues to cast one anti-Israel vote after another.
“Heusgen cast 16 anti-Israel votes at the UN in 2018, abstaining once,” noted the Center, exposing the ambassador’s efforts to aid hostile Arab countries in demonizing Israel.
In 2019, Heusgen voted for nine anti-Israel resolutions, including one labeling Jerusalem’s holiest sites as “Palestinian Occupied Territory.
The German ambassador recently equated 130 rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians, in one week in March, with the Jewish state’s demolition of terrorists’ homes.
“We believe that international law is the best way to protect civilians and allow them to live in peace and security and without fear of Israeli bulldozers or ‘Hamas rockets’,” Heusgen declared.
Bild, one of Germany’s most popular newspapers, accused Heusgen in a scathing editorial of “pure malice” against the Jewish State.
Germany Request Protection
Despite surging anti-Semitic acts, German authorities failed to honor requests from Jews to post security outside the synagogue during Yom Kippur services this past October.
Some 80 Jews praying in a synagogue in Halle, Germany on yom tov miraculously escaped certain injury or death at the hands of a neo-Nazi, when the attacker failed to break down a security door outside the synagogue.
After failing to shoot his way through the door, Stephan Balliet, 27, armed with a sub-machine gun and explosives, killed two civilians nearby and injured two others.
Balliet admitted that he was motivated by his hatred of Jews. In his manifesto, he stated, “Kill as many anti-Whites as possible, Jews preferred.”
Cold-Blooded Killer Set Free
The most recent and most appalling example of government indifference to anti-Semitic crimes is undoubtedly the French court ruling in the case of Sarah Halimi, Hy”d.
Two years ago, a 27-year-old man named Kobili Traore, an immigrant from Mali, forced his way into the Paris apartment of 65-year old Sarah Halimi, a kindergarten teacher in a Jewish school. Traore tortured and stabbed Sarah, calling her a demon and a dirty Jew and shouting allahu akbar, as he threw her battered body out of her third-story apartment window.
“I felt persecuted. When I saw that [mezuzah] on the door, the Torah and a chandelier in her home, I felt oppressed,” the killer told prosecutors.
One would think that the coldblooded murder of a woman in her own home for no reason other than her being a Jew would be treated as an open-and-shut hate crime.
Yet, the crime initially received little attention in the French media, and the justice system refused to say that Sarah was targeted because she was Jewish. Following a public outcry, a Paris prosecutor reversed his stance and agreed to prosecute the case as a hate crime.
After a two-year battle by the French Jewish community to bring the killer to justice, French authorities rendered an outrageous decision: The attacker had suffered a “massive psychotic episode” after smoking marijuana and was therefore not responsible for his actions.
The ruling, which ran counter to normal protocol under French criminal law, sparked an uproar in Jewish communities everywhere. Under French law, an offender who, due to drug or alcohol-induced impaired thinking, causes injuries or deaths, is typically slapped with a harsher penalty than would otherwise be the case.
In the Halimi case, the killer had a long arrest record for drug charges, and should have netted a lengthy prison sentence (France has no death penalty) for the savage murder of a helpless woman. Instead, Traore was transferred from prison to a psychiatric facility, where he is expected to be “treated” and afterwards released.
France’s Chief Rabbi slammed the decision by Paris prosecutors, calling the decision a license “to kill Jews.” In an open letter to French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, published by Le Figaro, Rabbi Haim Korsia argued that the decision was “a grave breach of trust” by the country’s judicial system.
Korsia asked Belloubet to explain “how deliberately taking considerable quantities of drugs exonerates an individual from all responsibility?”
“Should it be inferred from this decision that every drug-addicted individual is licensed to kill Jews?” the Chief Rabbi asked.
He called on Belloubet to “heal the wounds” caused by the decision, by “establishing the guilt of a suspect and by imposing a sentence commensurate with the seriousness of the acts committed.”
In a separate interview with French-language Israeli broadcaster i24 News, Sarah Halimi’s brother, William Attal, accused the judiciary of ignoring the fact that the murderer had been convicted 22 times on drugs charges, and had chosen his life of recidivism.
Attal slammed the “outrageous miscarriage of justice” in setting the killer free, thereby violating the victim’s memory, and trampling on the rights of the family and the Jewish community.
Just a week after the Paris prosecutor dismissed the murder charges against Sarah Halimi’s killer, the French Parliament formally adopted a resolution equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
Observers saw this as a transparent effort to soothe world Jewry over the travesty of justice in the Halimi case.
For many European Jews, the adoption of the resolution was nothing more than another hollow gesture in a long line of empty words offered up by European institutions, to mask their refusal to impose tough consequences on a spiller of Jewish blood.
As if to underscore the sense of farce behind the adoption of the resolution, more than 100 Jewish gravestones in a cemetery near Strasbourg were found spray-painted with swastikas, the same day the passage of the resolution was publicized.
A potent reminder that as long as no solid and meaningful deterrents are undertaken to protect Jewish communities, the assaults will continue.
Ranking high on the Wiesenthal Center’s list of the worst anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents in 2019 is an anti-Semitic slur originated by Rick Wiles, a Florida-based pastor and radio host who promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Wiles labeled the House impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump a “Jew coup.”
In a November 21st video that went viral, Wiles declared, “That’s the way the Jews work. They are deceivers. They plot. They lie. They do whatever they’ve had to do to accomplish their political agenda. Should the Jews take over the country, they will conduct a purge… kill millions of Christians.”
Wiles claims 87 thousand Facebook followers and nearly 60 thousand on Twitter.
Jewish Democrats Ted Deutch (FLA) and Elaine Luria (VA) called on the Trump administration to condemn TruNews – Wiles’ media outlet, for his “racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories
A White House spokesperson responded that TruNews was not authorized to cover its media events. “They are not credentialed to cover the White House,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere told the congressmen, ridiculing Wiles’ pretensions to inside information.
Canary in the Coal Mine
It goes without saying that government apathy, inertia and cowardice in dealing with rising Jew-hatred all across the West end up empowering anti-Semites. Yet the world’s tolerance of anti-Semitism will ultimately come back to haunt it, experts say.
History has demonstrated that Jews are the proverbial canary in a coal mine. Canaries dying of poisonous gases that are not yet detectable by the miners signal that the atmosphere in the mine has reached toxic levels.
So too, do virulent attacks on Jews in a given society presage deep trouble for that society.
Suicide bombers first hurled themselves against the people of Israel, and then after that came the attacks of 9/11 in New York, 7/7 in London, in Bali, and in many other places.
The violent extremism of Hamas and Hezbollah were originally directed against the Jewish State, but now similar forces threaten Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and other countries.
As world powers negotiate with Iran, they should realize that while today its nuclear ambitions threaten Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, tomorrow’s targets will be Paris, London, New York and Cairo.
In 1933, the danger that Adolf Hitler posed to the world was not yet clear. Even when Jews began to be severely persecuted and then murdered, the threat to civilization went unnoticed until too late. The deadly toxins of hatred eventually tore down the social order and engulfed humanity in a war that wiped out 60 million people.
This may have been what Gov. Cuomo had in mind when he told a news conference the day after the stabbing attack in Monsey: “We are not going to let this poison spread. No one else can defeat this country– but this country can defeat itself.”
Attacks in France Committed Broad Daylight
“In France, anti-Semitic attacks have been multiplying. Most are committed in broad daylight; attackers are brazen enough to break into Jewish homes,” wrote French author and expert on French anti-Semitism, Guy Millière.
“One racist act out of three committed in France in the last two years was directed against a Jew, while Jews now represent less than one percent of the French population,” noted the most recent report submitted to the French government by the Jewish Community Protection Service.
“Anti-Semitism has grown so much recently,” the report added, “that acts of aggression which cause no death or severe injury are no longer reported.”
In September 2017, Roger Pinto, president of Siona, a leading pro-Israel organization in France, was beaten and held for hours by people who forced open his door.
Also in 2017, Sarah Halimi, an elderly Jewish kindergarten teacher, was beaten and tortured in her Paris apartment, then thrown from her balcony to her death.
On January 18, 2018, six days after a knife attack in Sarcelles in which four people were killed, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Montreuil, east of Paris, was tortured all night by two men who broke open a window and assaulted him as he slept.
Graffiti on Jewish-owned homes warn the owners to “flee immediately” if they want to live. Anonymous letters with live bullets are dropped into mailboxes of Jews, and state that the next bullet will be fired into the recipient’s head.
Criticizing Islam is Against The Law
French laws meant to deter and punish anti-Semitic threats are now used to punish those who condemn the threats, Millière writes. He cites a new edition of a public school history textbook for an eighth grade that states that in France, it is forbidden to criticize Islam, and quotes a court decision to back up the assertion.
The court decision told of journalist Eric Zemmour making the observation that in Muslim neighborhoods, Muslims are now living “according to their own laws” and forcing non-Muslim people to leave. He was found guilty of “incitement” and fined.
Millière also discusses a new documentary about French Muslim neighborhoods, in which the filmmaker concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist organizations are taking control of French Muslim communities, while spreading hatred towards the Jews and the West. These organizations own many schools where Muslim children are taught about jihad.
According to the documentary, the French government is financing these schools and is therefore complicit “in sowing the seeds of a devastation that could easily go beyond the destruction of France’s Jews.”
“The occupation of the West,” predicts the documentary, “will be done without war but quietly, with infiltration and subversion.”
No French television station has dared broadcast the documentary, says Milliere. It has been aired only in Israel.
No Victory Without
The Muslim population in France has grown so large, it is virtually impossible to win an election without the Muslim vote. Jews, on the other hand, have no electoral weight and are essentially powerless.
Although synagogues in France have not been attacked since 2014, they all are guarded around the clock by armed soldiers in bulletproof vests who are shielded by sandbags, as are Jewish schools and cultural centers. Jewish institutions have all been turned into virtual fortresses—a potent commentary on the times.
The French Jewish community may still be the largest in Europe, but it is shrinking rapidly. In 2000, it was estimated at 500,000, but the number now is less than 400,000, and shrinking. Jewish districts that once were thriving are now on the verge of extinction.
About 200,000 French Jews have made their home in Israel. Those who do not want to leave France or who do not have the financial means, are moving to safer neighborhoods. Jewish families are often compelled to sell their homes well below the market price. Some families end up in apartments that are too small, but prefer discomfort to the risk of being robbed or killed.
“What is happening is an ethnic cleansing that dare not speak its name. In few decades, there will be no Jews in France,” according to Richard Abitbol, president of the Confederation of French Jews and Friends of Israel.