Three Decades after the Crown Heights Riots, Anti-Semitic Violence Still Flies beneath the Radar

August 20, 2021 | Charles Fain Lehman
About the author:

On August 19, 1991, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, a young Lubavitch Ḥasid lost control of his car, causing the death of a seven-year-old child of Guyanese immigrants. The accident—thanks in part to the incitement of Al Sharpton and other anti-Semitic agitators—sparked a three-day pogrom in which Jewish shops were destroyed, Jews were physically attacked, and one young Jew was fatally stabbed. Charles Fain Lehman notes what has changed since then, and what hasn’t:

[T]he three-decade interlude has not brought an end to anti-Semitic attacks against Crown Heights residents. Since 2019, there have been twenty anti-Jewish hate crimes in the surrounding 71st precinct, the fourth most for any single NYPD precinct. That includes multiple incidents of aggressive harassment, three robberies, two assaults, and one instance of “terroristic threats.” As before, gangs of roving teenagers still feel comfortable beating Jewish men in broad daylight.

[Yet] the reality of anti-Semitic crime continues to receive little notice. Even as tens of thousands rally against other forms of hatred, anti-Semitism remains the blind spot. In New York, anti-Semitic hate crimes surged this summer after a year of abeyance, with over 120 offenses reported by the end of June. A recently released repeat offender attacked an Orthodox family with a knife; a minivan driver tried to run over five ḥasidic men; and four synagogues were vandalized in the Riverdale neighborhood.

New York City, though home to the plurality of anti-Semitic hate crimes, was not alone in seeing a new wave of anti-Jewish hate over the past three years. The Anti-Defamation League found that 2019 was the worst year for anti-Semitic incidents since it began keeping records. Nationwide, such offenses increased in all but one year between 2014 and 2019. FBI data show that Jews are the religious group most likely to be victimized by hate crimes; only gay men and transgender people have a higher rate of victimization relative to their share of the population.

Anti-Semitic violence, in other words, has risen everywhere. Coming after a year in which more Americans than ever expressed vocal opposition to prejudice, one would expect a media bonanza, protests nationwide, and congressional action. . . . Just as apathy toward their views gives cover to anti-Semites on the left and right, so too does denial of the continuing reality of anti-Semitic violence give permission to the mob to keep beating and killing Jews just for the crime of being Jewish.

Read more on Washington Free Beacon:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now