main entrance to the Osher Marin JCC
The campus that houses the Osher Marin JCC and Congregation Rodef Sholom. (Photo/file)

Outbreak of anti-Semitic acts must be shut down now

Most media outlets are calling them “hoaxes” — the preferred term to describe the wave of bomb threats called into JCCs around the country, nearly 70 just in the past six weeks.

No bombs have been found. However, “hoax,” with its “just kidding” undertone, does not begin to convey the horror of these acts and the menace of this moment.

Just as our print edition went to press on Feb. 22, we received word that the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in New York received a bomb threat that day, as did a Jewish day school in Durham, North Carolina, forcing evacuation of both buildings. And this morning a JCC in New Orleans received a bomb threat.

On top of the bomb threats, in an act of unspeakable desecration, earlier this week nearly 200 tombstones were toppled at the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish cemetery. This took place not in prewar Poland or Ukraine. It occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, in the heartland of America.

The American Jewish community is under assault as it has not been in decades, perhaps ever. We demand answers and we demand action.

We cannot state it any more plainly: The American Jewish community is under assault as it has not been in decades, perhaps ever. We demand answers and we demand action.

Why is this happening now? There is no one simple answer, but we shall venture a guess. The election of President Donald Trump has further energized an anti-Semitic, extremist fringe, emboldened to act on its hateful ideology in an atmosphere where racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds have become normalized.

Whether or not the president’s own beliefs run counter to those of his acolytes, his tepid responses to questions about the recent wave of anti-Semitism have not helped. Twice in recent weeks he dodged opportunities to forcefully condemn the acts, and when he finally did speak out this week — labeling anti-Semitism “horrible” — he did so reading from a script in a lifeless monotone.

Even assuming Trump was sincere, members of the so-called alt-right, nurtured by Trump’s senior adviser, former Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon, clearly believe this is their moment to promote white nationalism, whose central tenet is hating Jews, among others.

Jewish leaders have spoken out in alarm and anger. The heads of the ADL, the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued statements demanding that the Justice Department make investigation of these crimes a top priority. We certainly echo that call, and ask President Trump to come out forcefully and often against these threats and vandalism.

Before it turns into something worse.

J. Staff