NowThis edits anti-Semitic video to be slightly less anti-Semitic
Global anti-Semitism is on the rise. 2019 ended with a Hanukkah machete attack in New York, and 2020 began with a slew of swastikas being spray-painted on cars, buildings, and Jewish camps from Vancouver Island to Brooklyn. Just a few days ago, four people were hospitalized in Uman, Ukraine after a mob armed with sticks and knives stormed a synagogue.
I was never a gun person. I didn’t want them in my house because I have curious kids, but I was fine with others having firearms. Until recently, I was content with my Louisville Slugger next to my nightstand.
Crime in Seattle has gotten so bad that we brought armed guards to Jewish cemeteries to protect children and veterans placing flags for the fallen on Memorial Day. Drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, substance abusers and others, have been desecrating the grounds on a nightly basis.
Armed guards are nothing new to Jews. They are present at synagogues, schools and community events. Unfortunately, because of our religious beliefs, we are always a target. The observant Jewish community enjoys a close connection with law enforcement. At the beginning of the year, 90,000 Jews attended an event called Siyum Hashas at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey celebrating the completion of the 7.5 year cycle of learning the Talmud. The police captain in charge of security called Rabbi Yosef Chaim Golding, CEO of the event, confirming that there were zero incidents at the event, but also that “…his ‘troopers have worked millions of events, but they NEVER felt so appreciated as they felt yesterday”.
This event coincided with a string of anti Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. The suspects, who had priors on their records, were arrested, some quickly released and subsequently re-arrested for committing new crimes, thanks to New York’s new bail reform.
According to the New York Post: “The legislation requires arraignment judges to set free suspects in any non-sexual assault that doesn’t actually cause a physical injury, even in cases of hate crime attacks. The no-injury loophole will mean a quick get-out-of-jail-free card for all but one of the accused attackers in the eight Hanukkah-timed, anti-Semitic bias crimes that have terrified the city’s Orthodox communities.”
These kind of “reforms” have been in action in Seattle for several years under a program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): While I would love to use their own words to tell you what they do, their King County Website says: “The Seattle-King County LEAD website is currently being revamped and will be shortly updated and relaunched.”
What LEAD claims it does is divert people who don’t belong in jail, to other programs to transition them back into society. This program has won awards and been cited as something to expand and replicate across the country.
When LEAD asked to meet with me last year to explain their operations, the director could not answer my basic questions about the program. How many people are in the program? How many people were back as contributing members of society? How many people returned to crime? No answers were given or available for these very simple questions. I have run several non profits and I knew every stat about each organization backwards and forwards.
The visuals on the streets of Seattle do not match LEAD’s claims of success. Almost every day there is another story of an attack, including on tourists and businesses. Business groups were so fed up that they commissioned System Failure: Report on Prolific Offenders in Seattle’s Criminal Justice System. The report showcases 100 Prolific offenders with multiple arrests, one as many as 74, who are continuously released. These offenders account for a large portion of the crime in downtown Seattle. Since the report was published, the majority of the “Prolific Offenders” have continued to cycle through Seattle’s “revolving door” justice system. LEAD funding has been put on hold by the Mayor pending a review by an outside consultant on the effectiveness of the program.
The report reminded me of the “Squeegee Men” who terrorized New York during the 1980s. These people were your first impression of New York when coming off the highway, as they started cleaning your windshield and would get violent if you told them “no”. It seemed as if there were thousands of them, but when NYPD started cracking down, it was discovered that there were only a few hundred Squeegee Men, who usually had criminal records. Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg mayoral administrations, the Squeegee Men were taken off the streets. Now under the DeBlasio Administration, they have made a comeback. Just like Seattle has seen a major spike in crime and boasts a property crime rate two-and-a-half times Los Angeles and four Times New York. “Progressive” politicians are making the problem worse and our cities more dangerous.
Peter Weyand, broke into a girls dorm at Yeshiva University in Manhattan and began setting fires in the building. According to the New York Post “he was released without bail following his arrest—only to be sprung again when he was allegedly caught trespassing on Staten Island hours later. He was also busted and let go after allegedly menacing a Brooklyn housemate on Dec. 5—sharpening a knife outside their door while calling out, ‘Here, piggy, piggy, piggy!’ according to police.”
When there is a failure of government to protect its own citizens, citizens will take their safety into their own hands. According to the Washington Examiner, Gun permit applications surged nearly 1,000 percent in New York’s Jewish community since the 13 anti-Semitic attacks in December.
When I ran for Seattle City Council, my family received multiple death threats. Strange phone calls. Doxxing of my home and office. As far as I know, I was the only candidate for Seattle City Council out of 57, who needed security guards. Ring doorbells and baseball bats were not going to cut it. My 12-year-old son asked if he could have a knife to protect his family from the people that were trying to kill us.
Ironically, the threats against my family came from believers of an ideology that is against gun ownership. I continue to receive threats, especially from Antifa who claim to be anti-fascist and are anything but, even though the campaign had been over for months. My family and I were being targeted because we are Jewish not because of my politics. Extremist actions like these, against an individual who does not have strong feelings on an issue, will cause a person to be more supportive of an ideology they don’t identify with because that is who is advocating for them.
When I hear about attacks with a body count on a religious institution, I always assume there were no members “carrying”. This is the new normal for Jewish life in America. I am troubled by the new legislation targeting legal gun owners in Washington and Virginia. None of the legislation they are proposing will do anything to make Jews or Non Jews safer. New York and New Jersey have some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, and that did not stop determined attackers. Meanwhile, Jews who want to protect themselves, have a very difficult time applying for firearms permits because of these laws. As long as people are intent on killing us, and “progressive” politicians continue to put us at risk, we need the ability to protect ourselves.
I always thought that if there was a Jewish candidate for President, I would be excited to vote for them. Now, with a Jewish candidate as one of the top contenders, I am concerned more than anything else.
This past week, the The Seattle Times ran an article announcing that the Bernie Sanders campaign had hired former Seattle City Council candidate Shaun Scott as their Washington State Field Director. The article links to, but does not discuss, Scott’s positions on Seattle’s issues. To say that Scott is an extreme socialist would be an understatement. Scott has been very vocal about taxing everyone from businesses to people who drive to work everyday, opening heroin injection sites in Seattle, and eliminating the Police Department among other proposals. He ran on a slate with other socialist candidates Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales.
While all this is concerning, what is even more concerning to me is that the Seattle Times article failed to mention that the Sanders campaign has brought into the fold another anti-Semite.
Shawn Scott has a history of hatred of the Jewish state and alliances with anti-Semitic organizations. In his endorsement questionnaire for the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Scott was asked, “Do you support the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, (BDS) Movement?” One could ask why this question is on an endorsement for Seattle City Council which has no control over foreign policy, but I believe it goes to the heart of the ideology of the DSA.
According to a report by stopantisemitism.org entitled “The New Anti Semites” there are “unprecedented similarities between the BDS movement and far-right groups to propagate anti-Semitism in the United States.” The report goes on to say, “Much of this hatred is often disguised under the veil of the delegitimization campaign against the Jewish State of Israel.” The report details that the BDS movement “directly drives anti-Semitism and radicalizes public discourse in Western democracies,” and documents over 100 examples in the United States and around the world. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, has said publicly that he’s working for Israel’s “euthanasia.” Hatem Bazian—the other major co-founder of BDS in America—has called for an armed struggle, an “intifada,” against the United States and spouted anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Scott answered the DSA question by saying that he “Wholly and unequivocally” supports the BDS movement and added a well-known anti-Semitic trope: “BDS is the least we can do to support the Palestinian people currently suffering under the apartheid state of Israel.” More concerning is that Scott, even with his public comments, was still endorsed by mainstream Democrat organizations.
Scott has worked with and supports Jewish Voice for Peace-Seattle (JVP) JVP is against the existence of the State of Israel and even hosted Rasmeah Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted in a 1969 terror attack that killed two. According to the Anti Defamation League (ADL) “Jewish Voice for Peace is a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel. JVP considers supporters of Israel, or even critics of Israel who do not hew to JVP’s own extreme views, to be complicit in Israel’s purported acts of racist oppression of Palestinians. JVP leaders believe that expressing support for Israel, or not challenging mainstream Jewish organizations that support Israel, must also be viewed as an implicit attack on people of color and all marginalized groups in the United States. JVP’s energetic proselytizing of this view–especially among other social justice groups–has created a hostile environment for many progressive Jews. In a sense, JVP is extending its boycott agenda to include not just Israel but its American supporters as well.” The full ADL report on JVP including JVP’s attacks on liberal and progressive Jews can be viewed here.
The Sanders campaign has been dogged by accusations of surrounding itself with anti-Semites over the past year. The Sanders Campaign named Linda Sarsour as an “Official Surrogate” for the campaign. Sarsour, was ousted from the Women’s March for a history of anti-Semitic comments including: “Israel was built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else.”
“How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy?”
Sarsour has been a supporter of rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and also supported terrorists like Rasmea Odeh. Sarsour has parroted anti-Semitic accusations of “dual loyalty” of Jews whenever she is called out on her comments and actions. In a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks across the country, with Jewish institutions begging for more police protection, like Scott, Sarsour is anti-police and even went so far as to praise cop killer Assata Shakur.
Sanders has frequently appeared with and accepted endorsements of Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib. Both, have well documented histories of anti-Semitic and anti Israel statements.
As a Jew, I always thought if there would be a Jewish candidate for President, they would represent traditional Jewish values. It is clear to me that the Sanders campaign and Shaun Scott do not represent those values and instead ally themselves with enemies of the Jews.
Ari Hoffman is the vice president of Congregation Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath in Seattle and a former candidate for Seattle City Council. He has been featured on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, Fox and Friends, The Dr. Drew Show and The Glen Beck Program.
We are now on the cusp of a new decade.
A decade in which tremendous potential and opportunity awaits.
A decade in which technological advancement could transform our lives in ways we can’t even imagine.
Yet, a new decade also begins amid the resurgence of one of the most virulent forms of hatred humanity has ever seen: Anti-Semitism.
The same vile ideology that led to some of the most horrific crimes of the 20th is spreading once again.
Attacks on Jews are rising in Canada, the United States, and around the world. And while the media has focused on the continuing threat of far-right extremists, anti-Semitism is growing fastest on the left.
Canada’s civilizational ally the U.K. narrowly dodged electing Jeremy Corbyn, who led a movement that was often outright anti-Semitic and had openly supported anti-Semitic organizations.
Israel is repeatedly targeted for condemnation at the corrupt UN, creating the absurd situation in which the only real democracy in the Middle East is attacked by dictatorships and authoritarian states.
Every day seems to bring news of yet another stabbing, or shooting, or assault targeting Jewish People.
More and more, Jewish People are expressing a feeling of fear, as hate seems to be spreading unchecked.
This means that the fight against anti-Semitism will be a defining part of the next decade.
And it’s a fight that will require all allies of Jewish people to stand up.
We cannot allow the same ideology we beat in World War Two to be allowed to spread (under different names and in mutated forms).
We cannot allow the media to only focus on anti-Semitism when it’s committed by someone on the far-right, we must call it out and stand against it no matter who is perpetrating it.
And we must not allow political leaders to pretend that endless resolutions at the UN condemning Israel are ‘harmless,’ or even worse, go along with those resolutions to win a worthless UN security Council Seat.
Those endless resolutions attacking Israel are about feeding into the hateful myth that blames Jewish people for everything wrong in the world, and when Canada refuses to stand against the UN’s anti-Israel bias we shame our nation and disgrace our past.
The future is not yet written.
There is nothing inevitable about the rise of anti-Semitism.
It’s been stopped before, and it can be stopped again, and in the new decade, the challenge and duty of stopping it rests with us.
Earlier this month, a caretaker at Jewish summer camp spotted “crude images and swastikas” according to a CBC News report.
Camp Miriam, one of the few Jewish overnight summer camps in the B.C. region, located on Gabriola Island, an island between the mainland and Vancouver Island, in close proximity to Nanaimo, was the target in the hate-motivated graffiti incident.
After discovering the graffiti, one of the camp’s committee members, Kelley Korbin confirmed it has been reported to the RCMP. The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is also aware of the troubling incident. The two groups, along with the hate crimes unit of the Vancouver Police department are examing the incident.
Ezra Shanken, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver told NEWS 1130 that “it’s almost like no corner of the globe is immune. We’re talking about a camp sitting on an island in the Strait that has not so many people on it.”
Korbin described the camp on priding itself on being “a progressive overnight camp where children learn about Jewish history, leadership and the environment.”
While there has been continued news coverage of antisemitic incidents in Canada, the United States and around the world, “this is the first time in (her) memory that Camp Miriam has been a direct recipient of an attack,” Korbin said.
The incident came to light after a tweet by Sheila Malcolmson, the MLA for Nanaimo, and Gabriola Island was shared.
The camp is a member of Habonim Dror, a Labour Zionist movement, one of the many Jewish organizations within the Kibbutz Movement. Habonim Dror has camps in 15 countries, and two camps in Canada alone.
Swastikas are generally the most common form of antisemitic graffiti in the Jewish diaspora. They are antisemitic to their core, and always have the interest of hatred against the Jewish community, regardless of their sect or affiliation.
Jewish summer camps are unlikely targets for antisemitic attacks, however, and this brings to light yet another type of Jewish institution that will need much more attention with regards to security as the unfortunate worldwide wave of antisemitism continues to spread.
The camp subsequently painted over the graffiti and are reviewing the organization’s security protocol.