Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Antisemitism is So Ubiquitous it Barely Rates a Mention in the 'Serious' Press

Torched cars owned by Orthodox Jews on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. Swastikas 
and KKK were scrawled on the cars and nearby benches.That this happened 
on Nov.11, the day after the anniversary of Kristallnacht, may not be a coincidence.

When, almost two weeks ago, a particularly serious anti-Jewish hate crime was committed in Brooklyn, the NY Times first reported it only in it's Metro section blog and then sat on the story for a full weekend before doing a follow up. In the meantime both NY tabloids, The Daily News and The NY Post reported it throughout the weekend as a matter of urgency. But they're just tabloids.

Coincidentally, I happened to be perusing the Southern Poverty Law Center's website and was surprised to discover that Antisemitism is not listed as a specific 'ideology' (apart from Holocaust Denial) in its Intelligence Files. I found that rather confusing and wrote to Mark Potok asking for an explanation. He very graciously responded with a phone call and explained that because Antisemitism is to be found among just about every hate group/ideology -- from Left to Right -- it cannot be made to fit into SPLC's morphology. What I heard was that Antisemitism is so ubiquitous in our society that somehow it defies categorization. 

So prevalent, so expected is it in our society that the press barely mentions it when, as Jeffrey Goldberg  posted today, the FBI reports that crimes against Jews qua Jews tops the list of all religion-based crimes in the US. That is, 65.4% are committed against Jews, as opposed to, for example, 13.2% against Muslims.

This gets us back to Mark Potok of SPLC, who cited, in an Huffington Post article, a 50% increase in hate-crimes against Muslims, but, as Goldberg remarks, didn't mention anti-Jewish crimes. I guess that just doesn't rate a mention.

Here's how Goldberg puts it:

"Over the Goldblog transom came an e-mail from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, about anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. The e-mail contained a link to an alarming  Huffington Post story by Mark Potok headlined "FBI Reports Dramatic Spike in Anti-Muslim Hate Violence." Potok is the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. Here is some of what the story reported:

"'Anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by an astounding 50% last year, skyrocketing over 2009 levels in a year marked by the vicious rhetoric of Islam-bashing politicians and activists, especially over the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" in New York City.

"'Although the national statistics compiled by the FBI each year are known to dramatically understate the real level of reported and unreported hate crimes, they do offer telling indications of some trends. The latest statistics, showing a jump from 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2009 to 160 in 2010, seem to reflect a clear rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric from groups like Stop Islamization of America. Much of that rhetoric was aimed at stopping an Islamic center in lower Manhattan.'

"There is no doubt that anti-Muslim prejudice is a serious problem in America, and not only among the Republican candidates for president. But when you dive into the FBI statistics on hate crimes, you discover something very interesting, something CAIR didn't mention, and something Potok didn't report: According to the FBI, only 13.2 percent of religiously-motivated hate attacks in America were directed against Muslims. Jews, however, were on the receiving end of 65.4 percent of all religion-based attacks: the FBI reports 887 hate crimes against Jews, as opposed to 160 against Muslims. 

"It has been thus for quite a while. In 2009, anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for 70 percent of all religiously-motivated attacks; in 2008 it was 66 percent. It is remarkable that Mr. Potok neglects to mention the fact that Jews make up the overwhelming majority of Americans who are targeted because of their religion. What a strange and telling omission!" He has more to say here.

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