Amid the Israel-Gaza war, Jewish communities across the U.S. were targeted in a flurry of anti-Semitic attacks. The Daily Caller spoke with Jewish leaders and found that many of them believed leading progressives in Congress and elsewhere were, at least in part, responsible for the recent uptick.
After some time passed during the conflict, President Joe Biden finally affirmed that “the United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.” But Dov Hikind, the founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, told the Daily Caller that the president’s comment was “too little, too late.” (RELATED: After Initial Silence, Biden Condemns ‘Despicable’ Attacks On Jews, Declares They ‘Must Stop’)
Reportedly the drivers were yelling “F**k the Jews.”
You can see the pro-Palestinian group attacking two people on the sidewalk In this video, and one of them fights back.
A victim is hospitalized.
— Sia Kordestani ???? (@SiaKordestani) May 19, 2021
“What took so long for the president? Everybody saw, everybody watched what was going on all over the country,” he said, referring to the assaults.
One such victim was Joey Borgen; he was attacked by a gang of pro-Palestinian men in Times Square and said he was targeted because he was a Jew.
“I wasn’t wearing an Israeli flag, I wasn’t wearing any Israeli hat or any sort of apparel,” he told the Daily Caller. “I’m an American.”
“But I was wearing a kippah, so the fact that I was Jewish [during the Middle East conflict] … pours onto Jews in general.”
Borgen added that he had no doubt the spike in attacks was a result of the inflamed rhetoric from Congress. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Ocasio-Cortez Admits She Has No Clue What She’s Talking About Immediately After Attacking Israel)
— Rob Bertrand (@Robertrand77) May 20, 2021
In response, Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a resolution in May that condemned the “poisonous anti-Israel rhetoric,” and blamed it for inspiring an escalation of violence against Jews.
“The sickening rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and around the world must end, along with the hateful anti-Israel rhetoric from politicians and the media that inspires the violence,” the senator said in a statement.
Upon being pressed on the rhetoric used by “The Squad,” especially on such claims that Israel is an “apartheid” state, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “I think we should tone down the rhetoric.” (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Condemns Hamas, But Says Helping Israel Is Not The Answer)
Apartheid states aren’t democracies.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 15, 2021
Similarly, Mark Ruffalo apologized for using “hyperbole” when he claimed that Israel was committing genocide. “It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad,” he said.
I have reflected & wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing “genocide”. It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad. Now is the time to avoid hyperbole.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) May 25, 2021
One of the people allegedly responsible for the attack on Borgen, 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, was released from prison on $10,000 bail. He reportedly said that he would attack again if given the chance.
In case you haven’t seen this outrageous video of Waseem Awawdeh- the punk that beat a Jewish man unconscious on a NYC street, here it is.
Celebrating after posting bail.
— Yaakov (Jack) Kaplan (@JackKaplanNY) May 23, 2021
“The people who have been out there doing terrible things these past few weeks I don’t think they became anti-Semites overnight,” Hikind, who is also a former Democratic New York State Assemblyman, told the Caller. (RELATED: Florida Holocaust Museum Vandalized With Anti-Semitic Message)
“I don’t think they became anti-Semitic as a result of the Gaza war. Their hatred for the Jewish people was always there. This just gave them a lot of opportunity with a lot of encouragement from [Congress].”
Hikind said that when “Bernie Sanders and those left-wing creeps” came out and criticized Israel for defending itself, “the terrorist organization in Gaza [was] thrilled.”
The recent uptick in hate crimes against Jews sparked widespread confusion as to why the attacks would spike simultaneously with the war, which lasted about two weeks.
Violent anti-Semitism spiked in America during the Israel-Hamas war. And we don’t know why. https://t.co/6QNoqXj1Z7
— Vox (@voxdotcom) June 2, 2021
However, anti-Semitism has been on the rise for years, even before conflicts escalated in the Middle East.
— NYC Scanner (@NYScanner) January 1, 2020
Avi Schnall, of Orthodox Jewish Advocacy, said anti-Semitism often occurs at random when there’s no fighting in the region.
“We saw a surge in attacks which can’t really be defined why that happens,” he said. “Sometimes there’s no explanation.” He further explained that anti-Semitism spreads from the top of society — by media, politicians, pop culture, and celebrities. (RELATED: ‘I Will Not Be Bullied’: Meghan McCain Calls Out ‘Uneducated Celebrities’ Who Are Attacking Her For Supporting Israel)
Morton Klein, the president of the right-wing group Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), echoed this sentiment when he said that “What is enabling [anti-Semitism’s] rapid increase is the extraordinarily biased media.”
It was recently uncovered that The Associated Press shared office space with Hamas in the Al-Jalaa tower.
The building housing Associated Press and Al-Jazeera offices in Gaza City was leveled by Israeli airstrikes. The IDF claimed the building contained Hamas military assets.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 15, 2021
Furthermore, The New York Times botched its coverage of the Israel-Gaza war and had to issue a series of corrections for overestimating the number of Palestinian civilian casualties, as well as including an apparent militant among the front-page spread of children who died in the war.
A 17-year-old was killed in the Gaza conflict this month — one of 69 children killed in fighting between Israel and militants. Now a militant group has claimed him as a member. https://t.co/NNoFN2jNKL
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) May 30, 2021
Correction: We published a picture in error. The child in the photograph of Rahaf al-Masri was not her. We’ve replaced that photo with one supplied by her family. Rahaf was killed on the first night of the war, as we reported. The photo was wrong. https://t.co/kfOevTPZRz
— Herbert Buchsbaum (@herbertnyt) May 29, 2021
Charles Kaufman, president of the Jewish human rights organization B’nai Brith International, said, “When some members of Congress ignite social media platforms with lies … the American street gets … disturbed.”
Deborah Katchko Gray, the founder of Women Cantors’ Network — and several other people who spoke with the Caller — pointed to Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, as a source of anti-Semitic influence.
Gray said she was “horrified” to see Farrakhan seated near former President Bill Clinton in 2018. That same year, Farrakhan made a series of anti-Semitic comments at a speech in Chicago. “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” he said, according to CNN.
“People have gotten whipped up into an anti-Semitic frenzy by people like Louis Farrakhan,” Gray told the Caller.
Despite Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism — which includes calling Jews “termites” — he maintains a presence on social media. In fact, Twitter originally ruled that the tweet did not violate their community guidelines and has since refused to follow Facebook’s footsteps in banning the Nation of Islam leader. (RELATED: Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan Spotted In The Front Row At Aretha Franklin’s Funeral)
Schnall explained that “lawlessness” inspired by the “defund the police” movement was also a factor in the spread of the attacks. “The Squad” members — it should be noted — are leaders in the effort to defund the police departments across the U.S. (RELATED: Squad Members Who Are Pushing To Defund The Police Spent Thousands On Private Security To Protect Themselves)
Schnall pointed to the riots that erupted across the country in the summer of 2020 as a possible nexus for anti-Semitism in the U.S. “If there’s a teenager the night before who was … throwing rocks at police officers and was encouraged to do so … why should he feel any hesitation in seeing a Jew, what stops him from beating him up?” Schnall said.
“When lawlessness is accepted, then beating up someone is not a big deal — neither is throwing rocks at a synagogue window when you’ve been throwing rocks the entire summer.”
Borgen pointed to a lack of deterrence in the legal system that in some places enables people, such as those who attacked him, to walk on the streets after assaulting someone.
“I just want to understand why the individuals who were arrested who would do the same actions again are allowed to walk the streets, and I’m looking over my shoulder worried they’re going to come after me again and there’s no accountability. I’m very disappointed,” Borgen said.
New York City signed a law that enforced reductions on bail. Despite the sweeping changes, some judges opted to set bail, including one case in which the judge wholly denied bail in a hate crime case prosecutors deemed ineligible for it. That decision was later reversed.
Combatting anti-Semitism begins with the recognition that it exists among people of all backgrounds and political affiliations, said a leading rabbi in the U.S., David Wolpe. “The best way to combat it is not to call it out on the other side of the political spectrum, but to identify it on your own side.”
Klein and Hikind also told the Caller that fighting anti-Semitism requires people — particularly those in leadership positions — to speak out.
The ZOA president concluded that “the refusal of President Biden and Democratic Party leaders … to condemn by name and remove from committees anti-Semitic representatives [Ilhan] Omar, [Rashida] Tlaib, AOC, [Cori] Bush, [Ayanna] Pressley and others” fuels anti-Semitism. (RELATED: ‘The Hamas Caucus’: Republicans Launch Explosive Term For Ocasio-Cortez)
However, Hikind offered a different perspective, concluding, “The anti-Semites are the anti-Semites — the people who are anti-Israel, BDS supporters in Congress [are the minority]. It’s when the so-called decent people are silent, that’s the beginning of the end. That’s the biggest tragedy.”