2017-03-29 / Editorial

Arrest of Jewish teen raises questions, provokes soul searching

In South Jersey and worldwide, Jews are feeling both relief and bewilderment over the arrest of an 18-year-old teen with dual Israeli- American citizenship in Israel last week in connection with the vast majority of recent bomb threats against Jewish institutions.

It is a huge comfort to know that most of these acts – including more than 150 threatening calls to Jewish Community Centers, schools and synagogues - were not coordinated hits by organized anti-Semitic groups. Yet the arrest of a Jewish youth, who by all known accounts suffers from an illness, fits no one’s narrative of who could have possibly been behind these disturbing, hateful and disruptive calls. Moreover, the arrest does not close the book on this ugly chapter. A range of other hate crimes has been tied to white supremacists, from abuse of journalists online to the arrest of a South Carolina man accused of planning a synagogue mass shooting. Moreover, some crimes are still unsolved, including the desecration of two major cemeteries, one in Philadelphia.

And it inevitably raises questions, such as whether some Jewish groups went too far pinning the bomb threats on an atmosphere that President Donald Trump “helped to create.”

As the American Jewish Committee put it in a statement, “This is a lesson in not leaping to assumption[s] about complex links between polarizing politics and anti-Semitic acts. But it does not dispel [the] age-old reality of anti- Semitism.”

We must remain vigilant against all forms of hate and also open minded while the authorities sort out the details and motives behind this tragic episode that brought on three months of anguish. 

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