As attacks on Jews increase nationwide, a new kind of anti-Semitism spreads in some unlikely places

A deadly shootout in a kosher deli in Jersey City, N.J., and a stabbing attack in Monsey, N.Y., are part of a pattern of increasing attacks on Jews across the U.S., including deadly assaults on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., that...

As attacks on Jews increase nationwide, a new kind of anti-Semitism spreads in some unlikely places

As attacks on Jews increase nationwide, a new kind of anti-Semitism spreads in some unlikely placesA deadly shootout in a kosher deli in Jersey City, N.J., and a stabbing attack in Monsey, N.Y., are part of a pattern of increasing attacks on Jews across the U.S., including deadly assaults on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., that killed 12.

Last month, during the three weeks between a deadly shootout that killed six people, including a police officer, at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J., and a machete attack at a rabbi’s house in Monsey, N.Y., that left five wounded, police in New York City received at least eight reports of possible hate crimes targeting Jews across the city, six within the week leading up to the Monsey stabbings, which coincided with Hanukkah. In response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the NYPD would be ramping up patrols in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations. Synagogues and other locations would also see increased police presence, de Blasio said.

Most of the assaults were of the misdemeanor variety — slaps, shoves, kicks and verbal abuse, according to the NYPD. But authorities are treating them as hate crimes, marking a violent end to a year in which reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes skyrocketed across New York City. As of Dec. 30, the NYPD said it had received 229 reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes since the beginning of 2019, a 24 percent increase over the same period in 2018. According to the NYPD, suspected anti-Semitic attacks made up more than 54 percent of all hate crimes reported in New York City last year. 

And they are part of a pattern of increasing attacks on Jews across the United States in recent years, including the deadly assaults on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., that killed 12. According to a forthcoming report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Semitic hate crimes in the country’s three biggest cities (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York) are approaching numbers not seen since the overall spike in hate crimes after 9/11.

But while the broader resurgence of American anti-Semitism takes the form of white supremacy and other far-right extremist ideologies, including outright Nazism, the incidents in New York and its suburbs stem from different causes — principally, long-standing tensions between the tight-knit ultra-Orthodox communities and their neighbors, often rooted in what amount to turf fights over real estate, exacerbated by the region’s notoriously tight housing market. Generally the victims are identifiably Jewish members of one of the Hasidic sects, who are easily recognized by their distinctive dress and hairstyles (long dresses and wigs for women; long black coats, beards and sidelocks for men).