The Jewish Community Is Under Attack. It Must Remain on High Alert for Antisemitic Attacks
A group of diners outside a Los Angeles restaurant was violently attacked for being Jewish. An innocent 23-year-old man in New York City was beaten by a group of people because he is Jewish. A brick shattered a window at a kosher pizzeria in Manhattan. Synagogues across the country have been vandalized.
These attacks in the last few weeks serve as an unfortunate reminder that, even in the United States, the Jewish community needs to constantly be on high alert for threats and attacks. Antisemitic incidents reported to the Secure Community Network, the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America, soared 80% in May. This comes on the heels of a near-historic increase in antisemitic incidents and assaults over the last several years: According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2019 targeted Jews – a 14% increase from the previous year.
These horrific statistics coupled with Jewish institutions beginning to reopen and communities gathering once again is a call to action for the Jewish community. We must stay cautious and alert as we resume operations.
As the official security arm of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the mission of the Secure Community Network is to ensure the safety, security and resiliency of the Jewish community in North America.
We have identified potential threats that the Jewish community should be on the lookout for to help community members stay safe and secure. The best way to stop an attack is to prevent it.
The following are the indicators that someone, or a group of people, might be planning an attack. If anyone sees any of the following events unfold, call the police immediately.
Individuals expressing online, on the phone or in-person threats. According to the Anti-Defamation League`s 2019 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, there were 1,127 harassment incidents where one or more Jews reported feeling threatened by antisemitic language or actions. There has also been a clear and recent rise in calls for violence against the Jewish community online, with a corresponding uptick in physical violence.
Vandalism. This includes actions or other efforts to deface or damage a part of an institution or facility. Just this past week, a window at a Jewish center on the campus of Harvard University was smashed. On Tuesday, a Chabad in Arizona was vandalized with a spray-painted swastika and antisemitic language. As institutions begin to reopen, it is crucial to prepare your facility for these potential dangers.
Cyberattacks. Jewish organizations have constantly faced antisemitism, harassment and assault, and these can also occur in the virtual space. Hacking and cyberattacks are a threat to the physical safety of the Jewish community. It is important to be alert and to protect social media accounts, websites and other forms of online communication.
Unauthorized people entering the facility. As seen from Los Angeles to New York and all across the country, innocent Jewish people can and will be attacked. The entrance of unauthorized people into a facility can be a deadly vulnerability. Facilities must be prepared, including knowing the congregants who will be entering and exiting the facilities.
Individuals or groups challenging facility security systems and/or security guards. Physical security is vital to the safety and security of the community. If there are attempts to break security systems, it is an immediate threat to those occupying the building. It is crucial to ensure all security systems are working properly and to be on alert for assailants tampering with security structures or guards.
Individuals observing the facility and its occupants. It is always important to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and report it to the appropriate authority. This helps to stop an attack before it happens.
This recent wave of antisemitism serves as a reminder that the Jewish community is a target. We must be on high alert for threats and dangers and take the necessary precautions to prevent them. It is especially crucial now as in-person gatherings have returned, and Jewish community members will be together again in the same facilities. We must continue to be as prepared and protected as possible.