Recent Rise in Violent Anti-Semitism In and Around NYC is Shocking and Must Be Reversed
Op-ed by Congressman Lee Zeldin
Hanukkah 2019 will be remembered for a sick amount of violent anti-Semitic attacks in and around New York City, attacks that are fueled by raw hate, feckless leadership, a culture of acceptance, lack of proper education, and the promotion of anti-Semitism.
From colleges to Congress to Hanukkah parties and synagogues, anti-Semitism is on full display in many ugly forms. We witnessed three innocent civilians slaughtered in a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, five brutally stabbed celebrating Hanukkah at the home of a rabbi and everyday Americans terrorized in the streets simply because of their faith.
Unfortunately, while these attacks have shocked the nation and the world with their sheer brutality, last month’s anti-Semitic crimes are nothing new for today’s Jewish-American community. In fact, the New York Police Department has reported 229 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 alone, making anti-Semitic attacks the most commonly reported hate crime comprising 54% of all those reported.
There are a variety of initiatives that all should support. Just a few of the many available options include education for those who desperately need it, greater security at places of worship and ensuring our communities’ law enforcement officers have the resources and support they need to safely and effectively confront the threat. Every elected official and community leader must embrace all available options rather than just trying to identify one or two ways to help. Unfortunately, some elected officials and community leaders have failed to step up and speak out at all.
It is important that each and every one of the perpetrators of last month’s attacks be brought to justice. Albany should also reverse course on its new cashless bail law, which included cashless bail for hate crime assaults. I was taken aback by reporting that a woman who was charged with assaulting and cursing at three Orthodox women in Brooklyn was set free under this new law. A day later, she was charged again with punching a woman in front of the victim’s children, and shockingly, once again, was released back onto our streets. We must crack down on those perpetrating these horrific attacks, but our community cannot be protected if those in our justice system who swore to protect it are handcuffed by these new cashless bail laws.
As a nation that opposes and condemns hatred in any form, America must root out anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head. We must not embolden it or elevate it, or even tolerate this hatred, which is attempting to normalize itself in our society. Whether this bigotry is brazen or it is toxic anti-Semitism deceptively masked in subtle tropes, we must eliminate it wherever it exists.
This is a reality that has plagued Jewish-Americans in every aspect of their lives. I have heard too many stories of college students from coast to coast on campuses all across America being targeted with blatant anti-Semitism in the name of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS. This movement, founded by someone who was an anti-Semite, has turned countless innocent students into targets of attacks due to their Jewish faith.
In July, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.Res.246, a powerful statement opposing the BDS movement. However, we must do more than make a statement. We must enact legislation with teeth that combats this movement and the hatred it perpetuates against Israel and the Jewish community at home and around the world.
From Congress to the state house to the school board, all elected and community leaders need to step up to confront and crush anti-Semitism and end this persistent threat against Jewish-Americans. While Hanukkah of 2019 will forever be stained by brutal anti-Semitic attacks, we must ensure that Hanukkah of 2020 and every year to come looks nothing like it.
Congressman Lee Zeldin represents New York’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives where he serves as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Co-Chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, Co-Chair of the Black-Jewish Caucus and one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress.