Two days after a pair of shooters connected with the Black Hebrew Israelites targeted a Jewish supermarket and killed four people in New Jersey, the NY Times published an editorial reminding readers that violent anti-Semitism is a right-wing problem.
On Tuesday, two gunmen, including one said to have published anti-Semitic posts and to have been a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which is hostile to Jews, killed four people in a rampage in Jersey City that appears to have targeted a kosher market.
The tides of anti-Semitism continue to rise higher, and more government action is sorely needed. The Department of Homeland Security’s recent strategy shift to focus on the growing threat of white nationalist terrorism was an important step…
The gunman responsible for a shooting at a Chabad in Poway, Calif., said he was inspired by Adolf Hitler’s ideology. Robert Bowers, who killed 11 in the Pittsburgh massacre, posted anti-Semitic messages on the social media platform Gab, popular with white supremacists and the alt-right. Blaze Bernstein, a gay Jewish University of Pennsylvania sophomore, was murdered near his California home in January 2018, and the suspect awaiting trial is a known neo-Nazi.
To be clear, I’m not disputing that the vile attacks in Pittsburgh or elsewhere were carried out by violent white supremacists. That’s clearly a real problem. But what’s also clear is that there is a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in the New York area, which has nothing to do with white supremacy. NPR recently interviewed Bari Weiss about her book “How To Fight Anti-Semitism” on the topic of the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in New York:
Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City are up 63% compared to 2018, according to the city’s police department. Many are acts of vandalism, like swastikas scrawled on synagogues. But there seems to be a specific increase in violent crimes against Orthodox Jews in neighborhoods where they live, including Williamsburg and Crown Heights.
SIMON: First, these current attacks. Based on reporting, is there a particular source for attacks against Orthodox Jews?
WEISS: Well, it seems to be happening often from people who live in the neighborhood. We don’t know that much about the perpetrators. What we do know is that people that live in Crown Heights don’t tend to be white supremacists. And to judge from the footage of many of these attacks, at least some of the perpetrators seem to be young black men or teenagers. And perhaps that’s one of the reasons that so many people want to avert their eyes from what’s happening in places like Crown Heights.
As I’ve pointed out before, the NY Times itself has reported that the recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in New York has no clear connection to right-wing hate:
If anti-Semitism bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York, it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy. During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group, Mark Molinari, commanding officer of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, told me.
“I almost wish it was sometimes more clear cut,’’ he said. “It’s every identity targeting every identity.”
That was published last November. Maybe things have changed since then but clearly white supremacy is not what is driving this problem in the NY Times’ own back yard. So why are they devoting an editorial to reinforcing this message now?
Because Trump. Honestly, I think that’s the answer. The bulk of the editorial is about Trump’s executive order aimed at restricting the flow of federal money to campuses that tolerate anti-Semitism. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Times badly botched a story about the EO this week leading many people on the left to panic about the dawn of a new fascism. That story was revised after the fact but no correction was issued. Given that people were literally seeing Nazism on the horizon based on the Times’ reporting, I think they were probably embarrassed (as they should be).
So here comes the editorial board to ding Trump’s EO and simultaneously paint it as not responsive to the real anti-Semitism problem. The editorial reads, “While Mr. Trump’s action might seem like a gesture of real concern, it does little to target the larger source of violent anti-Semitism in America…” The Times doesn’t quite come out and say it this plainly but the gist is something like: Keep the mass shooting in Jersey City and all of the other anti-Semitic incidents in New York in perspective. Left-wing anti-Semitism may have a body count and a number of assaults to its name but stay focused on the right-wing.
The botched Executive Order story was a scare tactic that imploded. This editorial is just a second, more cautious bite at the same apple.