The New York Police Department (NYPD) is investigating a series of attacks targeting Jews in Brooklyn, and one Jewish advocacy group has found what it calls surprisingly high numbers of American adherents of the Hebrew faith fearing anti-Semitism in the United States.
"They're playing a game: 'knockout.' 'Knock out the Jew,' maybe," Brooklyn Rabbi Yaacov Behrman told CBS Local News. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly estimated a total of eight attacks since September, and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) released a poll this week finding 81 percent of American Jews consider anti-Semitism a problem in the U.S.
Michael Schmidt, AJC's regional director for New York City, expressed the need for vigilance, trust in the New York police, and a powerful sense of hope.
"We have been in very close touch with authorities and believe that they are doing everything possible to identify the culprits of this activity," Schmidt said in an interview with The Christian Post on Thursday. "We monitor all of the anti-Semitic events very closely," he added, referencing further incidents in the Pine Bush community in upstate New York.
"Anti-Semitism has been around for thousands of years," Schmidt explained. "Unfortunately, I don't think we'll see it fully disappear." Nevertheless, he does did see reasons for hope.
"AJC has a long history of working with people of different faiths and will continue to do so, to help foster mutual understanding and respect in creating a civil society," Schmidt said. The regional director also recalled commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, for which AJC teamed up with the German consulate.
"I think that was a very meaningful and important statement in terms of how far we have come as Jews and as Germans in terms of the tragic event 75 years ago," Schmidt concluded.
In an interview with CP on Thursday, David Eden, chief administrative officer of Jewish college organization Hillel, condemned the attacks in Brooklyn. "It is anti-Semitic behavior to target Jews like that, and we hope the New York City authorities stop it immediately," Eden proclaimed. He did note, however, that his organization is not aware of any similar attacks across the U.S., which would lead 81 percent of American Jews to fear anti-Semitism.
Eden also condemned groups on college campuses that attack the state of Israel as "unacceptable."
Specifically, Eden cpmmented on Brooklyn College's political science department for agreeing to cosponsor events hosted by Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine, which aims to delegitimize the Jewish state. This event has drawn controversy and has been declared "anti-Semitic" in the New York Daily News. Eden explained that a major leader of the organization, Ben White, argues "that Israel is an apartheid state," which Hillel finds "completely outrageous and a form of hate speech."
"Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all cousins under the big tent of the Patriarch," Eden proclaimed. "We need to learn to live together, work together, and do the right thing together."
Evan R. Bernstein, the Anti-Defamation League's regional director for New York, condemned all anti-Semitic events as "troubling" in an email statement to CP. Bernstein admitted that America "saw an overall national decline of anti-Semitic incidents last year," but reported that "New York State as well as Brooklyn saw an uptick, which reminds us that we are still not immune to anti-Semitism."
"No person should be targeted for violence because of their religious beliefs, and it is our duty as a community to stand up against these senseless acts of hate," Bernstein declared. The Anti-Defamation League aims to safeguard the civil rights of all religious, racial, and ethnic groups, and has condemned violence against Egyptian Coptic Christians as well as against Jews in New York City.
Bernstein, too, expressed his faith in the NYPD. "We know that NYPD, and especially the Hate Crime Task Force, are working swiftly to find the alleged perpetrators of these incidents," he said.