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Why the FBI told New Jersey synagogues not to conduct outdoor activities

FBI is warning of a broad threat against synagogues in New Jersey. Is antisemitism on the rise in the U.S.?

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Hoboken Police officers stand watch outside the United Synagogue of Hoboken in Hoboken, N.J.

Hoboken Police officers stand watch outside the United Synagogue of Hoboken, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in Hoboken, N.J. The FBI says it has received credible information about a threat to synagogues in New Jersey. The FBI’s Newark office released a statement Thursday afternoon that characterizes it as a broad threat. The statement urged synagogues to “take all security precautions to protect your community and facility.”

Ryan Kryska, Associated Press

On Thursday, the FBI tweeted that it had received “credible information of a broad threat” to New Jersey synagogues.

The FBI didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the threat. According to The Associated Press, a law enforcement official said that officials found a broad threat posted online. The official could not speak about the details of the ongoing investigation publicly.

The New York Times spoke with Rabbi Marc Katz who said that this latest threat added to the tension they had already experienced. “Over the past several years, the temple has added boulders out front as blockades, layered a shatterproof film on its windows and replaced locks. An armed guard is on duty every time the school or synagogue is in use, and there are cameras everywhere, he said.”

Is antisemitism on the rise in the U.S.?

Last year, the Anti-Defamation League recorded a record high number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. According to BBC, the Anti-Defmation League, which has tracked these incidents since 1979, tracked 2,717 reported incidents in 2021. PBS reported that this is an increase of 34% from the year before, averaging out to seven incidents per day.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said to PBS about the rise of antisemitism, “By the same token, when you have people make wild claims about the Jewish state, make unhinged accusations, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that then people attack Jewish Americans here at home.” Greenblatt noted that in the past year alone, assaults have increased by 167%.

Middlebury College published a series of essays on the nature of antisemitism. They also noted, like Greenblatt did, that antisemitism often stems from conspiracy theories. The ADL has published reports on this subject, showing the close relationship between antisemitism and QAnon — an online conspiratorial community that propagates prejudicial theories.

Recently, the Deseret News reported that Kanye West and Kyrie Irving came under fire for making antisemitic comments. Over the last five years, there have been high-profile antisemitic incidents. The Tree of Life synagogue massacre and the Charlottesville rally were tragedies that showed real antisemitism and hate that spurred into violence.

How to confront antisemitism

The Anti-Defamation League has a list on its website of the ways that it attempts to fight antisemitism. Supporting what the ADL does and finding other ways to fight antisemitism can contribute to positive change. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Speaking out against antisemitism.
  • Educating people about the dangers of antisemitism.
  • Advocating for policy solutions.
  • Learning about Jewish history and culture.
  • When you hear an antisemitic comment, have a conversation to explain why it’s wrong.