In 2021, antisemitic incidents reached the highest level in more than 40 years in the United States. The 167% rise in antisemitism-related physical assaults, in particular, indicates a trend that American businessman and philanthropist Adam Milstein says has been prevalent in U.S. cities in recent years.
Incidents involving harassment, vandalism, and online abuse took place in New York, Los Angeles and other urban areas in 2021 - part of an alarming 'surge of anti-Jewish hate,' Milstein said in a Jerusalem Post op-ed, which unfolded after Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations in May 2021 launched rockets and missiles into Israel over an 11-day period.
'With many Jews in America now fearing walking the street in their kippot or wearing other items that identify them as Jewish or Zionist, or even speaking Hebrew in public, we are sliding in the direction of our European Jewish brethren - in fear and under siege, requiring more and more layers of security,' Milstein wrote. 'We must collectively demand a rejection of all forms of antisemitism.'
Following a wave of widely publicized celebrity statements in 2022 - including NBA player Kyrie Irving promoting an antisemitic film and Kanye West praising Adolf Hitler and making other comments that Milstein notes echoed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's antisemitic views - a number of political figures have launched campaigns to address hate speech and especially Jew-hatred.
A Mounting Unease
Throughout the past 25 years, according to Adam Milstein, antisemitism has experienced exponential growth in America.
Pursuant to the FBI, more than half of all religion-based hate crimes in the past decade have targeted the Jewish community. In 2021 alone, antisemitic incidents happened seven times a day on average, ultimately occurring in all 50 states - ranging from Jewish Americans being verbally harassed and property being marked with swastikas, to deadly assaults.
So many incidents occurred in 2021, ADL said, that the Department of Homeland Security, which typically issues two terrorism advisory bulletins annually, last year published four.
A March 2021 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) mentioned the heightened risk violent domestic extremists posed, fueling antisemitism, discord, and violence, noting racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and violent militia extremists - the most likely, the ODNI said, to conduct mass casualty attacks - were of particular concern.
Antisemitism has been the catalyst for a number of deadly incidents in recent years, including a shooting at a kosher market in New Jersey in December 2019 that resulted in three fatalities and the October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people died.
Antisemitism has also been an issue Internationally. In Germany, for instance, 25 people - including a number of active and former soldiers - were arrested in early December 2022 in connection with antisemitic and other racist ideologies. Last year, the German police logged more than 3,000 antisemitic-related crimes in that country, which subsequently adopted a national approach to preventing antisemitism in 2022.
Recent government efforts may help diminish the risk of antisemitic incidents occurring within the U.S. both today and in the future.
The Department of Justice, for example, held an antisemitism-focused conference in 2019, featuring speakers from the FBI, Department of Education, and other federal agencies, who addressed topics such as prosecuting hate crimes.
From January 2017 through 2021, the DOJ charged more than 80 defendants with antisemitic hate crimes and related conduct, resulting in more than 65 convictions.
To assist in reducing antisemitism abroad, in an essay published by the Tribune News Service earlier this year, Adam Milstein and co-author James Jay Carafano, vice president at the Heritage Foundation think tank, suggested the U.S. avoid providing any support to the current regime in Iran.
Adam Milstein and Carafano instead recommend the U.S. government issue sanctions to underscore unacceptable human rights abuses in the region and work to help establish resiliency in the Middle East to prevent issues if Iran's leadership changes.
Individual Americans, too, may be able to help reduce the prevalence of antisemitism.
In addition to supporting organizations that fight against hate, bigotry, and antisemitism, similar to the work of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, - Americans can encourage legislation that focuses on eliminating bias and hate, , and reporting any antisemitic incidents you witness to law enforcement, and watch dog organizations such as StopAntisemitism
'Now is the time to stand up,' wrote Milstein, 'fight back with all our remaining might, and hold antisemites accountable.'