The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition
Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009. LCCR Education Fund.

Hate Crimes Against Jews

In 2007, there were 969 reported hate crimes committed against Jews, according to the FBI, constituting 12.7 percent of all hate crimes reported and 69 percent of religious bias hate crimes reported.

The Jewish community — unlike some new immigrant communities — has long understood the importance of reporting crimes directed against community members and institutions. The Anti-Defamation League has been collecting information on anti-Semitic incidents since 1979. Using official crime statistics and information provided to ADL's regional offices by victims, law enforcement officials, and community leaders, the ADL's Audit provides an annual snapshot of this activity and helps identify possible trends. In 2007 (the most recent report available), the League reported 1,460 incidents — 761 directed at individuals and 699 directed at institutions.36

The Nazi swastika, one of the most powerfully-enduring symbols of anti-Semitism and religious and ethnic hatred, has been present in hundreds of attacks against buildings, synagogues, cemeteries, and private homes over the past few years. In September 2007, for example, a massive swastika, the size of a football field, was carved into a New Jersey cornfield.

Hate groups continue to utilize the Internet to spread their message of anti-Semitism and hate. In recent years, groups such as the National Socialist Movement and Ku Klux Klan actively contributed to the continued Internet circulation of anti-Jewish conspiracy charges and theories of Jewish control of government, finance, and the media. There are thousands of hate sites on the Internet, and they continue to multiply. Many of these sites include Internet radio shows and downloadable music and games with anti-Semitic themes and propaganda. Extremists also continued to exploit social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs, using text messages and videos to propagate anti-Semitism.

Examples of recent anti-Semitic hate crimes include:

  • On June 10, 2009, a white supremacist and anti-Semite entered the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Mall in Washington, DC and opened fire, killing a security guard, Stephen T. Johns, before being critically wounded himself. The shooter, James Von Brunn, has published an anti-Semitic book and created an anti-Semitic Web site, on which he posted Holocaust denial essays and embraced various conspiracy theories involving Jews, blacks and other minority groups. He had been arrested and imprisoned in 1981 for using a sawed-off shotgun to try to take Federal Reserve Board members hostage on the grounds that Jews control the nation's banking system.

    That night, President Obama issued a statement saying, in part, "This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world." Later in the week, the House of Representatives passed H Res 529 (pdf) and the Senate passed S Res 184 (pdf) to condemn the attack, support the important work of the Holocaust Museum, and express condolences to the family of Officer Johns.

  • On May 20, 2009, four New York residents were arrested for an alleged plot to attack two synagogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at a military base in Newburgh, New York. They were arrested after planting what they believed to be bombs in cars outside of the Riverdale Temple and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center. They also plotted to destroy military aircraft at the New York Air National Guard Base located at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York.

    Evidence indicates that the four perpetrators were Muslims and were motivated to act because of their hatred of America and Jews. "These were people who were eager to bring death to Jews," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder said at a court hearing the day after the arrests. "These are extremely violent men." Authorities said the men were angry over the U.S. war in Afghanistan and had voiced hatred of Jews

    The men reportedly began surveillance of several synagogues and a Jewish Community Center in the Bronx in April 2009. In preparation for the attack, the men went to a warehouse in Stamford, Connecticut to obtain what they believed to be a surface-to-air guided missile system and three IEDs, which they transported back to Newburgh. The men also purchased a semiautomatic handgun to use during the planned terrorist operation.

    On June 2, the U.S. District Court in New York returned an eight-count indictment against the four suspects, adding three counts of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and two counts of conspiracy to kill U.S. officers and employees.

  • In December 2007, four Jewish students from Hunter and Baruch Colleges in New York City were assaulted on a subway train by a group of eight assailants as they wished people a happy Hanukkah. At least two victims were punched in the face, and a knife was pulled. Police arrested the assailants after the train was stopped.
  • In January 2008, more than 50 headstones were overturned and vandalized in a northwest Chicago Jewish cemetery. The headstones were sprayed with anti-Semitic images, such as swastikas and the Star of David hanging from a gallows. Some grave markers also contained white supremacist symbols. A 21 year-old self-professed neo-Nazi was arrested and charged with felony hate crime and felony criminal damage to property.
  • In July 2006, an individual forced his way into the building of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and went on a murderous rampage, killing one woman, Pam Waechter, 58, and seriously injuring five others, one of whom was 17 weeks pregnant. Eyewitnesses reported that the murderer, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, forced his way through a security door and announced "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel" as he began shooting. The perpetrator told a 911 dispatcher "I want these Jews to get out….I'm upset at your foreign policy. These are Jews…." He was arrested and charged with fifteen felony counts, including murder. In June 2008, a jury deadlocked on the question of the insanity of the perpetrator. The King County prosecutor has promised to retry the case. The trial is scheduled for October 2009.37

Next Section: Hate Crimes Against Asian Pacific Americans

36. Anti-Defamation League, "2007 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents," March 5, 2008.

37. "Retrial Delayed in Seattle Jewish Center Shooting," Associated Press, January 2, 2009.

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