NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The FBI announced there was a “broad threat” to synagogues in New Jersey. A vandal painted swastikas at a playground in Weston. A group of self-proclaimed Neo-Nazis held a public protest in Orlando. There were “Kanye was right” banners in Jacksonville and Los Angeles.
These are some of the disturbing incidents that followed the recent antisemitic rhetoric Kanye West, now known as Ye, unleashed on Twitter. Kyrie Irving, a Brooklyn Nets player, was suspended for defending Ye and later apologized.
With the upcoming midterm elections, there was also the man who wrote Holocaust denial posts before attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer, while searching for her. A group of religious leaders met to call for action on Friday in North Miami Beach.
“I have called my colleagues to stand in my pain as I will stand in their pain,” said Rabbi Alan Litwak, who hosted the meeting at Temple Sinai of North Dade.
The group standing against antisemitism also included Rev. Gaston E. Smith, of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami’s Liberty City; Rev. Gregory Thompson, of the New Harvest Baptist Church, in Westview; Joshua Sayles, of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation; and Rabbi Fred Klein, of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.
“Our struggles are similar,” Smith said referring to the Black community’s struggles with racism, and he added that “to judge, to pre-judge, of someone’s faith, ethnicity, origin, is absolutely demonic, evil and wicked and it’s cruel.”
Sayles agreed and he said the solidarity is mutual.
“The only group targeted more than the Jewish people are African Americans,” Sayles said.
On Thursday, the FBI urged Jews to “take all security precautions” to protect their community and facilities in New Jersey, and The Anti-Defamation League asked the public to remain “calm” but on a “heightened state of alert.” On Friday, On Friday, the FBI identified the culprit announcing he no longer posed a threat.
“Sadly in a country founded on the values of freedom of religion, our communities are vulnerable today,” Klein said.
Antisemitic incidents nationwide reached an all-time high last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual report released earlier this year.
The attacks against Jewish institutions, including community centers and synagogues, increased by about 60%, incidents at K-12 schools increased by about 105%, and incidents on college campuses increased by about 20%.
“Good people are not racist; good people are not antisemitic,” Thompson said. “Good people do not tear; good people build up!”
The ADL also reported the highest annual total number of incidents of harassment, vandalism, or violence targeting Jews since 1979. There were nearly 2,720 reports in 2021.
Last week, the Jewish community honored the 11 victims of the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history on Oct. 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The leaders warned that history has shown how antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories can escalate into violence without intervention.
“Do not be silent in the face of hate and violence, in the Jewish community, or any other group,” Klein said.