November 19, 2019

Report: NYC Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Increased 50% in 2019

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

New York Police Department (NYPD) Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari announced in an Oct. 3 meeting with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA)-Federation of New York donors 163 hate crimes took place in New York City from Jan.-Sept. 2019, a marked increase from 108 during the same timeframe in 2018.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that Molinari, who heads the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force said 87 percent of the anti-Semitic hate crimes that occurred in New York City in 2019 were “generally vandalism involving the drawing of swastikas.” The rest were assaults.

Overall, there were 311 total reported hate crimes in New York City through September in 2019. Fifty-two percent were anti-Semitic. There were 250 total hate crimes reported in New York City during the same timeframe in 2018.

“For the most part, I’m dealing with 311 random individuals of very diverse backgrounds committing these hate crimes against different people,” Molinari said, adding that “there aren’t roving bands of white supremacists, from khakis and tiki torches to hood-wearing people” committing hate crimes in New York City.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York and New Jersey Regional Director Evan Bernstein told the Journal, “There [have] been issues in Brooklyn for many, many years… with gentrification. There have been issues between the different minority communities that make up Brooklyn and the Jewish community, and I think this is again showing that there needs to be even more work done to ensure that these hate crimes stop.”

“It’s a huge challenge for us as an organization trying to stay on top of these types of incidents because we want to do the best we can to prevent them, but also we want to be proactive.” — Evan Bernstein, ADL.

Recent instances have included three swastikas at Pelham Middle School in New York’s Westchester County on Oct. 2 and two youths who threw milk crates into the windows of the Rivnitz shul in Brooklyn on Sept. 30 during Rosh Hashanah services.

“It’s a huge challenge for us as an organization trying to stay on top of these types of incidents because we want to do the best we can to prevent them, but also we want to be proactive,” Bernstein said. “And the sheer magnitude is making it harder. We’re feeling like we have to be more reactive than proactive, and that’s very difficult for us.”

UJA-Federation said during the Oct. 3 meeting that together with the Jewish Community Relations Council, they are funneling $4 million to 2,000 Jewish institutions in New York City over the next two years to enhance their security in response to the rising hate crimes, according to JTA. Bernstein told the Journal that the ADL is working with schools in New York City to implement anti-bias education.

“We need to let people know, especially young people, that bias of any kind is not tolerated,” Bernstein said. “And that’s what’s happening here. These are people that are clearly showing bias against Jews and Orthodox Jews, and we need to get to the root cause of it.”

He called for New York City officials to facilitate dialogue between minority communities in the city.

“Elected officials are the leaders in their community,” Bernstein said. “They’re the ones that are representing those varying swaths of different kinds of backgrounds and religions and they need to be the ones coming together that can create the sense of community to where someone knows someone well enough or knows the community well enough to where they’re not going to want to assault somebody else. But right now, I think there’s a divide in the conversations that people just don’t understand each other.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt similarly tweeted that there needs to be “a plan from the Mayor/ elected leaders to curb the surging #antiSemitism that we see.”