After a pandemic lull, anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City are at historic highs.
The NYPD says there were 86 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the city in the first three months of this year. At this rate, annual totals would far exceed the 242 reported in 2019 – itself a record before the number dropped during the COVID lockdown.
In an incident that took place on a Saturday evening earlier this month, which is the end of the Jewish Sabbath, teens armed with a sword threatened and made anti-Semitic remarks to six yarmulke-wearing boys on the Upper West Side, according to the NYPD and the Anti-Defamation League.
The day before in Williamsburg, police said, a Hasidic man was assaulted in the sort of unprovoked attack that has become increasingly common in recent years -- Brooklynites who are visibly identifiable as Jews, due to their garb and hair coverings, are often the victims of anti-Semitic attacks. In that case, a 16-year-old boy was charged. His accomplices are still at large. The ADL offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his accomplices’ arrests and convictions.
While there’s been a surge in anti-Asian crimes in the city, statistics show that Jews are still the most targeted hate crime victims. Of the 524 hate crimes recorded in the city last year, 198 were designated as anti-Jewish and 131 as anti-Asian.
Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said after his agency recorded more anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2019 than at any time in the last 40 years of collecting data, there was a dip during the pandemic. But “we began seeing toward the end of 2021 a rise again in these same types of assaults, and it’s been pretty much non-stop since the end of 2021.”
In the past six months in New York and New Jersey, the ADL offered 10 rewards for information leading to the conviction of someone for such a crime, which is far higher than normal.
But most hate crimes do not end in arrests. In 2020, there were 121 anti-Jewish crimes and 25 arrests; in 2019, there were 242 crimes and 42 arrests, according to police data. Last year just more than a quarter of such hate crimes ended in arrests.
Anti-Semitic comments on social media are also higher than ever, Richman said. The ADL investigates about 30 incidents a week in New York. The city sees more anti-Semitic incidents than anywhere in the country; it also has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel.
Anti-Semitic graffiti, like swastikas, are among the most common types of incidents. Recently, anti-Semitic hate speech was found scrawled outside an Upper West Side restaurant.
Richman said the city needs to be pro-active in preventing anti-Semitism, like through the ADL’s anti-bias program for schools, called “No Place For Hate.”
In rolling back bail reform measures in her budget last week, Governor Kathy Hochul said there’s a provision to make more hate crimes subject to arrest. The city council is also seeking an additional $5 million this year in Mayor Eric Adams’ budget to combat hate crimes.