Anti-Semitic assaults are adding up, but city authorities don’t seem interested.
From the beginning of his presidential campaign through his comments after Charlottesville, Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions have been linked to an upsurge in hate crimes. Yet while Trump deserves condemnation for arguably enabling fringe elements of the Right, that link, often advanced by his critics, is not at all clear.
In fact, it obscures a different trend. Just look at New York City, where one of the largest spikes in anti-Semitic hate crimes tells a different story yet has gone largely unremarked upon. In 2018, almost half of all anti-Semitic assaults nationally occurred in New York. There, the New York Police Department’s hate-crime-unit data indicate a substantial increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes (a broader category than just assaults). The number jumped from 17 in 2017 to 33 in 2018, and is on pace to rise again in 2019, with 19 in the first half of the year. New York mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly insisted that the attacks against Jews in New York are driven by a white-supremacist movement connected to Donald Trump, and a NY/NJ report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on the spike in anti-Semitic assaults in New York followed De Blasio’s lead.
Despite the fact that all the assaults were in New York City, the report noted, “In 2018, ADL documented 67 white supremacist propaganda distribution incidents in New York State, 10 of which were anti-Semitic in nature.” This is at odds with the evidence. None of the suspects in any of the New York City anti-Jewish crimes against persons had any previous arrests for hate crimes or any background in hate-related activities, organized or otherwise. Armin Rosen pointed out that these spurious suggestions were made “despite clear evidence that . . . many of the attacks are being carried out by people of color with no ties to the politics of white supremacy.” Indeed, in 2017 and 2018, 37 blacks compared with 46 whites were arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes, the majority of which were for property vandalism and harassment — statistics consistent with national data. The city, of course, has a history of such incidents, dating back to the riots in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights in the 1990s.