A machete-wielding man’s attack on American Jews in New York on the seventh night of Hanukkah last month was yet another chilling reminder that a wave of hateful anti-Semitism still infects our country.
In the New York City suburb of Monsey, New York, the man charged through the front door of the rabbi’s home, just as the candlelight ceremony was winding down, wielding a machete nearly the length of a broomstick.
The attacker swung his weapon at the fleeing Jews, including children and elderly, as the guests headed out the back door or into the adjoining synagogue. At least five people were wounded, and the assailant was arrested and charged with five counts of attempted murder.
The attack in Monsey, nearly 30 miles from New York City, shook a region where Jews have recently been targets of other attackers. Several weeks earlier, “four people were fatally shot in what officials called a targeted attack on a Jersey City (New Jersey) kosher grocery store motivated by hatred of Jews and law enforcement,” The Washington Post reported earlier this week.
Across the nation similar attacks were also terrorizing Jews, and have triggered calls from top Jewish leaders in Los Angeles for the FBI and President Trump “to do more to prevent terrorist violence and hate crimes in the U.S. after a series of anti-Semitic attacks, some deadly, across the country in December,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported this week.
“I do not recall a time in American history more serious than this moment. ... [The] FBI has the resources to do this job,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center at the Museum of Tolerance on L.A.’s west side, told the newspaper.
“We need to combat this cancer before it gets worse,” Hier said.
“Last April, a 19-year-old carrying an AR-15 stormed a synagogue in Poway near San Diego,” the paper further reported. “He shot four people, killing one woman, and injuring the synagogue’s rabbi.”
This is a story that should be leading the nightly news, with screaming headlines across the front pages of our nation’s leading newspapers.
But it isn’t getting the attention and outrage that it deserves.
Rabbi Peter Levi, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County and Long Beach, said “he couldn’t remember another time when so many anti-Semitic attacks happened in such a short span. That’s led to intense anxiety in the Jewish community,” the paper reported.
“This is an unparalleled level of violence,” he said. “(American Jews) are aware that something is going on in our country and our world right now that is unacceptable.”
And it’s getting worse — a lot worse. Local hate crimes were at five-year highs in 2018 in Southern California, according to local officials.
“In L.A. County, 521 hate crimes were recorded in 2018, a 2.6 percent rise. In Orange County there were 67 hate crimes, an 11 percent increase,” the newspaper said.
What does President Trump say about all of this? Well, not that much, really.
In the wake of the Monsey attack, Trump called anti-Semitism a “scourge” that must be eradicated.
And what is his Justice Department doing about it? Well, last July the department convened a summit to come up with a plan to fight anti-Semitism, calling this issue “an important priority.” If that’s the case, not much is getting done on that score.
And then there’s this sleepy call to action from Attorney General William Barr last July that leaves one guessing whether anything’s going to get done.
“I am deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes and political violence that we have seen over the past decade,” Barr said.
We’re still waiting.
Then there was the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where anti-Semitism was on full display and where a white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one of them.
When Trump was asked what he thought of the rally, he replied there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
Donald Lambro is a conservative columnist who has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.