2018-03-14 / Editorial

Spike in hate crimes in NJ must be met with action

From bomb threats to vandalism to cyber bullying, reported anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey increased by 32 percent in 2017, marking the fourth straight year of growth in these alarming crimes.

The unwelcome news comes from the latest audit by the Anti-Defamation League, which has been tracking the data since the 1970s.

Among 100 incidents of vandalism, 95 acts of harassment and three physical assaults reported last year, several high-profile crimes took place in South Jersey. In a wave of North American bomb threats, the Katz JCC endured a forced evacuation last winter while the roof of Congregation Beth Tikvah’s was marred by hate graffiti in the fall. In December, three publically displayed menorahs were defaced down the shore.

“We cannot ignore the recent spike of anti- Semitism in New Jersey,” said ADL Regional Director Nancy K. Baron-Baer. “In four short years, anti-Semitism in the Garden State has gone from historic lows to decade-long highs. Bigots feel emboldened to flaunt their hateful attitudes more publicly than ever, as illustrated by a near doubling in acts of vandalism. Our children are under assault from twice as many anti- Semitic incidents in our schools. The time is now to act against this growing threat.”

ADL leaders and other experts say anti- Semitism, as well as acts targeting other minority groups have been fueled by growing polarization in America and the ease which people can flaunt their views and organize on social media.

We must continue to lean on our leaders to condemn hate speech and acts. An effective response also requires a greater emphasis on tolerance education and the creation of avenues for diverse groups to engage in civil discourse.

To be part of the solution, we must take our “Never Again” mantra to heart and work to be part of the solution. 

Return to top