By Amy Zewe—
You may think that identity groups that receive the most hate crimes attacks (per capita) are Muslim, or LGBTQ members, or even Asians or African Americans based on the news reporting we hear. Any hate crime against any community member is unacceptable and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, I do believe equitable coverage of hate crimes by the news media is vital for folks to really know and understand the atmosphere of US culture and society—without such honest reporting, citizens receive a skewed view of what crimes and victims truly exist, and thus cannot accurately formulate a solution or avenue to solution.
Robert Mayer reported on April 25, 2021, the most recent statistics regarding hate crimes in America as interpreted from a recently released FBI Study. Mayer reports “The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released its Hate Crime Statistics Report highlighting troubling trends related to hate crimes against Jews. According to the report, Jewish people were the targets of over 60% of religious bias-related hate crimes. Jews were targeted at significantly higher rates than any other religious group.”
(Keep in mind that Jews—in any variety—make up less than 2.5% of the US population.)
As alarming as this is, the reality is that the FBI may be factoring these statistics in a way the diminishes how alarming they really are. The FBI does not include crimes targeting Jewish people under the racial, ethnicity, or ancestry bias categories but only as a religious group. This singular perception of Jewish identity is a misconception. According to Meyer, The FBI does not analyze hate crime data targeting Jews to factor in broader antisemitic sentiments, which have surpassed mere religious bias, and intersect biases related to race, ethnicity, and ancestry.
Today, antisemitic acts and sentiments are rooted in a more secular bias. Categorizing hate crimes against Jewish people as part of the collective statistic of race and ethnicity-based hate crimes would show that Jews represent 17% of the victims of hate crimes in this category (Meyer).
Factoring in the relative proportion of Jews from the total US population (at best 3% or so), this analysis highlights an alarming result: A Jewish person is three times more likely to experience a hate crime than African Americans and thirteen times more likely than Hispanic Americans. These comparisons are not intended to diminish anyone’s suffering but do demand careful evaluation and analysis.
To better identify and combat antisemitism and the measurement of crimes against Jews collectively or individually is to better evaluate the nature of the crimes and categorize them more efficiently,
According to Meyer, and our own observations, antisemitic rhetoric, vandalism, and intimidation have become normalized in the US in recent years. Whether it takes place on social media, in the public square, or even in Congress. These trends contribute to the escalation of violent hate crimes against Jewish people on the streets, in places of worship, and even in their homes and businesses.
One way the Justice Department can improve the analysis and then work for a solution is to apply The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by many institutions worldwide, including the US State Department, states that hate targeting Jews also manifests itself as:
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions… Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
This definition would provide the Justice Department with a more accurate and comprehensive view of hate crimes targeting Jews.
Proper identification, analysis and definition of a problem can best offer a vision to solutions including education and legislation that can change this atmosphere.
Shavua Tov, have a great week.