Report shows increase of anti-Semitism in CO

Wikimedia Commons

Last week, residents of Longmont awoke to discover their neighborhood defaced with offensive graffiti: four red swastikas painted over other graffiti on a resident’s backyard fence. It was the second such vandalism in two weeks in the town of 90,000. Officials worked with the fence owner to paint over the Nazi-related symbols.

Without suspects, the motivation behind the swastikas in Longmont are unknown. However, recent years have seen growing hostility and violence against minority faiths, including those in the Jewish community, reports the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in their annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The 2015 study shows that national incidents rose 3 percent from 2014, which saw a 21 percent increase from the prior year. The news comes after a steady 10-year decline following a hate crime spike post-September 11.

According to Scott Levin, regional director for the ADL in Colorado, the escalation makes sense given the emerging global interracial and interreligious tensions and the current state of public affairs in the U.S., which has the second-largest Jewish population in the world.

“It’s attributable to hateful rhetoric in politics these days,” Levin says. “If you’re talking about how ‘horrible’ the immigrants are or people from certain countries, that emboldens people to use the same sort of hateful rhetoric when describing anyone they don’t agree with.”

In 2015, there were 941 reports of anti-Semitic crimes in the U.S. including verbal threats and physical violence. People were shot with paintballs or hit with rocks. Synagogues received prank calls and suspicious packages. A building at Yale University was defaced with the statement “Yale is a Jew hole — let’s round them up,” and someone painted swastikas on a Jewish fraternity building at Vanderbilt University.

In Colorado, reported numbers increased almost two-fold from 2014 to 2015, going from 10 to 18. There were 15 cases identified as threats or other harassment, two cases of vandalism and one report of physical assault.

This current wave of anti-Semitism is being expressed in more passive and indirect forms than in the past, with most reports of hate crimes involving defacement of property or verbal harassment, according to the most recent FBI Hate Crime Statistics. But the motives for these actions are rooted in the same ideologies as they’ve always been.

“People hold these deep-seeded beliefs that it’s easier to blame the ‘other,’” Levin says.

Often referred to as “the longest hatred,” anti-Semitism goes back to the founding of Judaism and its followers have been the source of scapegoatism for societal issues throughout history. Negative Jewish archetypes were utilized centuries before Hitler and the rise of Nazism in Europe, and can be seen today with conflicts like those in Gaza and with ISIS.

Samuel Boyd, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado Boulder says Jews have long been a convenient scapegoat. He points out that even in ancient times, aristocrats upset over economic issues would often blame Jews for the problem because it was an easy way to divert attention.

“So when there was economic or political insecurity,” he says, “they became the targets of accusations and attacks. Today the markets are far from stable, and we see a rehashing of rhetoric.”

Boyd mentions a phrase used in PBS documentary Story of the Jews: “The Jewish imagination is paranoia, confirmed by history.” He says when there is discontent, Jewish people usually become the object of prejudice, so their fear is constantly validated.

However, a big step toward feeling secure is community support. Jonathan Lev, executive director of the Boulder Jewish Community Center, says solace helped heal apprehensions last year after the center received an envelope with a threatening note, prompting a large police presence and investigation.

“A core element of what defines Boulder is people actually care about one another,” Lev says. “After this incident hundreds of people throughout the community — people not associated with us, government officials — reached out to show their support. The response was ensuring people continue to feel safe and comfortable and at home at this space they connect with deeply.”

He has spoken with hundreds of families about the incident since, and while the organization tries to look forward, there is a responsibility for education.

“Hatred, whether towards one group or another, needs to be both identified and reported by everyone when a specific community is affected by it,” Lev says.

The ADL was formed in 1913 with a mission of confronting anti-Semitism and has since moved toward combating discrimination in general, while also tracking global attitudes toward Jewish people. A planet-wide survey reveals more than a billion people harbor anti-Semitic beliefs. These perceptions are most prevalent in the Middle East, Europe and northern Africa.

And while these numbers are shocking, they are most likely much higher. Overt bigotry is not accepted the same as it was, say, 100 years ago, but current politics are testing that.

Rabbi Jamie Korngold, from Boulder’s Adventure Rabbi program, agrees recent discourse is to blame.

“I think it’s the general rhetoric in society today,” she says. “The incidents of hate crimes have risen in the past year because it’s become more acceptable to speak and act negative towards people different than you.“

Many incidents, Korngold says, are quietly reported to the police and don’t make the news, in order to try to minimize copycat attacks. The ADL’s press release even generated repercussions, she says, although cannot go into detail for safety reasons.

Levin says that the victims of these crimes might not report them at all, for varying reasons. “Sometimes the targets of hateful action are embarrassed; they don’t want to draw attention.”

However, it seems the general consensus is that anti-Semitism in the U.S. needs to be both talked about and addressed. In 2004, Congress passed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which created a committee to research hateful beliefs toward Jews. Of the legislative effort, then-president George W. Bush said, “We have a duty to expose and confront anti-Semitism wherever it is found.”

“We very much, as an organization, encourage people to report and make it known,” Levin concludes. “It’s only by tracking, identifying and bringing these occurrences to light that we can deal with it.”

  • Michael

    What is interesting is that people historically target the Jews. Why?

    Jews are smart and successful and talented. Why are they almost universally targeted by malcontents?

    I suggest it is because Jews are the perpetual outsiders in Western Civilization, failing to embrace the common Christian identity that underlies this culture.

    So no matter how successful and positive they are, Jews will always be seen as people with an ulterior motive and not really committed to the shared values of what used to be called Christendom.

    The USA, despite claims of the religious right, is not a Christian nation but a Masonic nation, founded by Christian dissidents of all stripes who rallied around the core Masonic goals of restoring Old Testament values and helping to rebuild a Judaic Temple in Jerusalem. See this book for more details:

    This is why historically Jews are most secure in America, where there has been almost no significant anti-Semitism.

    America is basically a Judaic nation in spirit and thus a wonderful home to Jews.

    Another factor is that no matter how wealthy and powerful Jews are, they never feel completely secure. This is both a psychological and philosophical function of their role as outsiders. Sometimes Jews aspire to enormous levels of wealth to provide a sense of security. When times become hard for the general public, these Jews are viewed with resentment and anger and anti-Semitism rises.

    I know of what I speak, since I come from an elite Jewish family and moved to Israel after graduating from Harvard. I spent 18 years there as an ultra Orthodox Jew before converting to Christianity in 2000.

    Both Jewish and Israeli society are characterized by anxiety, paranoia, xenophobia and misanthropy towards not only the outside non Jewish world but also towards different Jewish groups. Were it not for the common Arab enemy, Israeli society would soon disintegrate into warring factions, just like at the time of the Roman destruction almost 2000 years ago.

    The root of all these problems, in my opinion, is that Jews are not spiritually reconciled to their Heavenly Father and Creator God by believing in the atonement of His Son and Savior Jesus Christ.

    And so long as Jews remain in enmity to Jesus, they will suffer anxiety and seek false comforts of money and power that only fuel non Jewish resentment and anger towards them.

    May the remnant of Israel come home to their Messiah Jesus soon.


    My Messianic blog is:

    • Michael

      Another factor in anti-Semitism is alluded to in another Boulder Weekly article, entitled Nobody wins a nuclear war, that quotes retired CU Boulder professor Tom Mayer as saying:

      “There’s a kind of an unconscious arrogance which is part of the American culture these days, that we have a right to intervene anywhere in the world. We’re always the good guy and everyone else is the bad guy,” he says. “We’re acting as if we have the right to dominate the world. And I think that’s a very unjust and a very dangerous position.”

      Of course the root of the hubris seen in American foreign policy, and decried by Prof. Mayer, is the false-flag Zionist terrorist charade that took place on Sept 11, 2001.

      We are like a family whose father is a child molester, cowering in the darkness, unwilling to expose the crime since the shame is so great. Such is the problem with America, which is run by a shadow government of special interests who are ruthless and utterly immoral and beyond all accountability.

      Until Americans are willing to face up to and expose that uncomfortable reality, we will never see a change in our foreign policy.

      And anti-Semitism will unfortunately grow as more and more people become convinced that certain Jewish organizations and special interest groups are operating behind the scenes to the detriment of our national welfare.

      May the remnant of Israel come home to their Messiah Jesus soon.


    • Michael

      This is a comment from a Messianic leader in South Africa:

      The Torah commanded that the people of Israel listen to the Prophet like Moses whom the Lord would send – and he, the prophet like Moses, the mediator of a covenant between God and Israel, is of course Jesus Christ.

      So, to reject Jesus is also to completely reject the Torah and rebel against its requirements.

      And the consequence of rebellion, unfaithfulness and disobedience, for those who claim to be yoked to the Torah, is clearly stated in the Torah – which is most likely the explanation of a very unique anxiety disorder among those claiming to be Jews – they would be scattered throughout the world:

      If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name —the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. 64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see (Deuteronomy 28:58-67).

      And, the most likely explanation of an otherwise strange and uncalled for phenomena of people being anti-Jewish is also found in the Law – and also as the result of Israel’s unfaithfulness and rebellion against the Torah and against the Messiah:

      You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you (Deuteronomy 28:37) .