The FBI has released its annual report for hate crimes in 2019. What is significant is that Jews seemed to be the biggest target of religious hate crimes. There was not only a 14% increase in attacks against Jews but, as victims, they accounted for 60% of the total religious hate crimes.
The numbers may shock some, but they didn’t shock me. I have been watching this problem fester for almost 15 years now. I first began paying attention around 2006 when I was teaching part-time at the University of California at Irvine and saw how the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activism on our campus was often spilling over into unabashed Jew-hatred. The purveyors of this modern-day anti-Semitism tried to disguise it in the form of “anti-Zionism”. They denied they were anti-Semitic. Many of the anti-Israel professors and speakers invited to campus by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Union were themselves Jewish. That could not change the fact that vicious anti-Semires like Oakland-based imam, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, and Washington DC-based imams, Mohamed al-Asi and Abdul Alim Musa also came to our campus and engaged in heated anti-Jewish rhetoric. I know. I was present on several such occasions.
It was just this specific situation at UC Irvine that made me an activist though I myself am not Jewish. As a student of the history of the Third Reich, I was already sensitive to the issue of anti-Semitism. As I watched the deteriorating situation for Jews in Europe, I realized that anti-Semitism was enjoying a resurgence in the US as well. The focal point for that resurgence was on our university campuses, and the entire University of California system was a particular hotspot, though it must be pointed out that the problem exists in universities all over the US and Canada. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the latest example of campus under the microscope as a result of numerous complaints from Jewish students. And the spark that lights the fire on campuses across the country is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is one of the biggest hot-button issues on countless university campuses.
From the campuses, the problem has now metastasized across society. This is purely anecdotal and personal, and I don’t have the empirical evidence for this, but when I first got involved back in 2006-7, my impression was that it was a campus problem. The local Jewish community did not seem to be overly aware of what was happening on campus in the peaceful bedroom community of Irvine. Indeed, we struggled to bring the problem to the attention of the local community. In that effort, we and Jewish students who wanted to speak out and fight back were thwarted in our efforts by national Jewish organizations like the Jewish Federation (Orange County)and Hillel, both of whom were too embedded and invested in the university to want to make waves. Meanwhile, the ADL was simply missing in action. They prefer to this day to concentrate on anti-Semitism coming from white nationalists. Not to defend white anti-Semites; they are to be condemned as well. I just don’t believe they account for the major part of the problem. Then again, I don’t have the empirical evidence at my fingertips.
I hope that the FBI report gets wide dissemination. The public must demand action from the government. Not to get political, but under the Trump administration, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has taken an active role in addressing this issue. If Joe Biden becomes our next president, as it appears he will, I hope that policy will continue. I fear, however, that the Biden administration is going to be more Palestinian-friendly. That will have repercussions not only with our Israel policy but on our campuses as well.
Jew-hatred has always been an issue that cuts across ethnic lines. Next year’s FBI report will surely include the May 2020 pogrom that occurred in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, largely carried out by Black Lives Matter thugs in the wake of the George Floyd death. The truth is that we all need to examine anti-Semitism within our own communities and within our own ethnic groups, white, black, Muslim, etc. Here in the US, our universities also need to address this issue. After all, at least in my opinion, this is where it began to explode.