FBI: Jews were victims in 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2018

There was also a 105% increase in physical assaults on Jews over the previous year.

A crowd watches on screen the funeral for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the sole fatality of the Saturday synagogue shooting at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 29, 2019 (photo credit: JOHN GASTALDO/REUTERS)
A crowd watches on screen the funeral for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the sole fatality of the Saturday synagogue shooting at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 29, 2019
(photo credit: JOHN GASTALDO/REUTERS)
According to the recently released US FBI hate crime statistics for 2018, Jews were the victims in nearly three-fifths of the offenses committed against people due to their religion. Furthermore, there was a 105% increase in physical assaults on Jews over the previous year, the worst of which was the October 27 massacre of 11 worshipers by a white supremacist at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Since that tragic event 14 months ago, more than a dozen white supremacists have been arrested for plots, threats or attacks against Jews. The specific incidents include a threat on Facebook to kill Jews at a synagogue in Washington state, a threat on Instagram to attack a Jewish community center in Ohio, a deadly shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, and a plot to bomb a historic Colorado synagogue.
There’s no disputing that Jews are the primary target of white supremacist hate. It would be, of course, unthinkable (not to mention patently absurd and highly offensive) for anyone to accuse the very victims of this odious far-right antisemitism of being white supremacists themselves.
Unthinkable, that is, unless we’re talking about the twisted moral universe of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. As if the outrageous claims of Israeli apartheid and genocide of the Palestinians were not enough to demonize the Jewish state, BDS activists are increasingly casting Jews – specifically, the Zionists among us – as agents of white supremacy.
Given the reality that Zionism provides for fully safeguarding the civil liberties and political rights of non-Jewish Israeli citizens, what’s behind this nefarious campaign to misrepresent it as a hate-filled, racist ideology? The goal is similar to that of comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews: to influence progressive-minded people, especially impressionable young college students who know virtually nothing about Israel, to condemn the Jewish state and its supporters in the same way they condemn white supremacy.
To be sure, Zionism has long been the target of the Israel haters going all the way back to 1975 when the UN General Assembly adopted its infamous “Zionism Is Racism” resolution. Although Resolution 3379 was revoked in 1991, over the last several years the BDS movement has eagerly taken up the mantle of defaming Zionism.
I first became aware of the insidious tactic of equating the national liberation movement of the Jewish people with white supremacy when three Jewish women who were carrying rainbow Star of David flags were expelled from the 2017 Chicago “Dyke March” in support of LGBTQ rights. Their crime? They refused to disavow Israel. In a statement following the march, organizers explained that the women couldn’t participate because, after all, “Zionism is an inherently white supremacist ideology.”
According to a September 2019 report by AMCHA Initiative, a nonpartisan group that investigates and combats antisemitism on college campuses, demonization campaigns seeking to marginalize pro-Israel students as white supremacists have more than doubled. At the University of Virginia, where neo-Nazis marched through campus two years ago shouting, “Jews will not replace us,” it was Jewish students who were barred from joining a minority student coalition to confront white supremacy.
In May 2018 at Stony Brook University in New York, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) issued a statement asking the administration, “If there were Nazis, white nationalists and KKK members on campus, would their identity have to be accepted and respected? Absolutely not. Then why would we respect the views of Zionists?”
More recently, in November, the Brown University chapters of SJP and the anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace hosted a panel titled “BDS: The Palestinian Right to Resist.” The program featured Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour, who stepped down as co-chair of the national Women’s March following concerns over her association with Nation of Islam leader, and notorious antisemite, Louis Farrakhan.
During the discussion, Sarsour, proclaimed her belief that “Jewish people deserve to [live] in safety” while at the same time calling Zionism a form of racial supremacy.
Unsurprisingly, she failed to explain how vilifying Zionists – i.e., the vast majority of American Jews – would make us feel safe.
Given the rise in antisemitic hate crimes in the US over the last few years, it’s understandable that many Jews would consider combating white supremacy to be the highest priority of our community. But we must also pay close attention to antisemitism on the Left and devote ample resources to fighting those divisive forces that seek to delegitimize Israel by maligning a core part of our Jewish identity. Ignore that threat, and it will be just a matter of time before the “Zionism-is-white-supremacy” slander goes mainstream.


Tags hate crime