Sun, Mar 05, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Threats, attacks in US fuel fear of rising anti-Semitism

AFP, WASHINGTON

More than 100 bomb threats against US Jewish organizations and the desecration of three Jewish cemeteries are stoking fears of a rise of anti-Semitism, with some analysts blaming the politics of US President Donald Trump’s era.

On Friday, the FBI arrested former journalist Juan Thompson over a handful of the bomb threats, saying he made them to frame a former girlfriend in what they called a revenge case rather than a hate crime.

However, that left unsolved more than 100 other threats made since the beginning of the year, some of which forced the evacuation of Jewish community centers (JCC) and schools.

The Anti-Defamation League has tabulated 121 threats reported since Jan. 1, labeling them an “epidemic.”

Unlike Thompson’s e-mailed threats, the majority were made by a person or people by telephone using voice-masking, automated calling and spoofing technologies to hide their identity and location.

All proved to be hoaxes and no one has been injured.

However, on Feb. 16, police in South Carolina arrested a man allegedly tied to white supremacist groups for allegedly planning to attack a synagogue.

Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities are investigating attacks on Jewish cemeteries in three cities which saw hundreds of gravestones tumbled and broken.

The latest took place in Rochester, New York, late on Wednesday.

“Just because there’s been an arrest today doesn’t mean that threats have disappear or will stop,” Evan Bernstein, New York regional director for the league — also a target of the bomb threats — told a news conference on Friday.

“There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved ... and we hope all law enforcement will continue to be diligent,” Bernstein said.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, which tracks racist and hate groups, said it is too early to say whether there is a real upsurge in anti-Semitic activity in the US.

According to the league, there were more than 900 anti-Jewish incidents reported across the country in 2015.

However, Potok said that the rise of Trump to the White House has encouraged extreme right, neo-Nazi groups and boosted the confidence of activists with racist agendas.

“Anti-Semitism is pervasive in the American radical right,” Potok said. “People feel the Trump campaign has brought their ideas into the mainstream ... This surge of anti-Semitic incidents reflects the normalization of these ideas.”

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