Anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey leave questions, raise worries
January 12th, 2012
09:25 PM ET

Anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey leave questions, raise worries

By Ronni Berke, CNN

New York (CNN) - Synagogues firebombed and defaced by graffiti. Windows smashed at shops owned by Jewish merchants. Is anti-Semitism on the rise?

The FBI is investigating a rash of anti-Semitic attacks in northern New Jersey, including the attempted murder of a rabbi after incendiary devices were thrown at his home above a synagogue.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman suffered minor burns in the incident Wednesday at Beth El Synagogue in Rutherford.

It was the fourth anti-Semitic incident in the past month in Bergen County. On January 4, a Paramus synagogue was hit by an arson attack, and in December, two temples were vandalized.

No arrests have been made. "We don't know if we're looking at one person or a group of people," said Bryan Travers of the FBI's Newark division.

In November, vandals smashed windows at five stores owned by Jewish merchants in Middlesex County.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie condemned the recent synagogue attacks. "I will not stand for it, and we will summon all necessary law enforcement resources to identify and prosecute those responsible," Christie said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League, which catalogs anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, is urging law enforcement authorities to step up security around synagogues. It's offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the Bergen County attacks.

But Jewish leaders and scholars contacted by CNN could only speculate on why there is a surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the Northeast.

"This year, it did go up, but I'm not ready to draw any conclusions," said Ken Jacobson, the ADL's deputy national director.

But Jacobson said he was concerned about the spike in attacks in New Jersey. "The surge of these incidents in a short period of time in New Jersey is not a conventional kind of thing," Jacobson said.

The type of incident is also alarming, he said. A rabbi attacked in his home is far more worrying than a swastika scrawled on a door. "We are watching very closely," he said.

Economic insecurity and polarization "create the kind of atmosphere where people act out," he said.

According to a November survey by the ADL, 15% of Americans hold deeply anti-Semitic views; that figure stood at 12% in the 2009 survey.

In the poll, 19% of respondents answered "probably true" to the statement: "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street." The theme of the "miserly Jew," as personified by Shakespeare's Shylock, is common in anti-Semitism.

"There's a persistent economic theme of the Jew not just as miserly but as economically parasitical," says Derek Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History at the University of Toronto, and author of "Shylock's Children."

In the 1930s, anti-Semitism was "visible, public and people did not try to hide it," Penslar said. "Jewish bankers were often accused of fomenting wars." Things are much better now, he added. "There seems to be a change in the United States in how Jews are accepted."

Penslar is not convinced that the economic downturn is the main cause of anti-Semitic attacks.

"Things were much worse in 2008 and 2009. I was expecting something then.

"My sense is more often than not what's happening now is related to Middle Eastern politics." Namely, the stalemate about Israel, Penslar says.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center cited FBI statistics showing an actual decrease in hate crime incidents against Jews during the most recent recession.

"I don't think there are any obvious explanations," Potok says. "It may be there is a small number of people who are attacking repeatedly, and that just says you have a few very active anti-Semites out there."

Nationwide, the FBI reported 887 such incidents in 2010, compared with 1013 in 2008.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • Violence

soundoff (459 Responses)
  1. bribarian

    who cares

    January 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • D Gandy

      That's right, and when your family is killed, nobody will care about that, either.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • bribarian

      why would my family be killed?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Kishmere613

      For someone who doesn't care you seem to be spending a lot of time on this page...

      January 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  2. Bitflogger

    Anti-Semitic attacks are wrong. Its also wrong to influence the U.S. government to fight a war for another country.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Sam

      Yup their influence in Washington is incredible, Do you know that Jack Abramoff influenced over 100 senators and he was only one Super lobbyist , check him out on you tube or CBS 60 minutes ; Imagine there are hundreds of Jewish superlobbyist in Washington and they strongly influence Wall street , White House and all foreign policies , even most Zionist senators (king, Lieberman, schummer etc..) are members of AIPAC and control very important and critical positions in The government . You just have to watch them in the current movies that's based on true stories: Casino Jack and Fairgame (i.e karl Rove). Their influence which started since the day of president Truman led our crooked politicians to support Israel unconditionally , got us into the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmire , and also led us into a collision course with most Arabic and Islamic countries .

      January 13, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  3. Dave Junkins

    In the USA circa 2012, its ok to attack Jews, Asians, Indians, Whites, Christians, Males. But by god don't even think anything bad about a black woman, you will have 3 CNN editorials scolding you in a matter of hours!

    January 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Chester

      Feeling a tad emasculated, are we?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • festus

      Wow John. Should we call the WHAAAMMMBulance for you? You big fricken' baby you.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @Dave Junkins, pls. take your meds. paid for by Pres. Obama.
      It's people like you that makes Pres. Obama's job very difficult. Three smart Black women on CNN scare the heck out of ya? Wow, I thought Blackmen scares the heck out and living day light of every white folk? Is this an evidence of guilt? Free your soul of your demons.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  4. Mashka

    I came here from Russia because my family couldn't practice ANY religion. I am a Jew and I can't believe that this many people have so much hate for such a small group of people because they look a little different.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      And the shouting and the spitting....oy!

      January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • hez316

      I I don't think it has anything to do with appearance or even financial control. IMO its a spiritual issue. Rev 12: 1-6, 13. Only explanation for such unfounded hatred.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  5. marty

    there is a difference between Judaism and Zionism. Not all Jews are Zionists. Many Christians are Zionists

    January 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • mike

      Zion is mention 153 times in the bible. and no passage does it refer to christians but Israel and the Jewish people

      January 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  6. its almost the weekend

    Hitler ghost is walking across United States now and as the economy goes in the tank and the rise of occupy protestes around the country they will soon start blaming the Jews for Americas bad economy, Jewish people in America should start packing and getting ready to flee for Israel.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Mashka

      I don't think so. We are not going anywhere. A lot more of us are owning guns then during WWII. I dare any one to find out

      January 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @Mashka, only the guilt, impotent weak and midgets carry guns.
      You sound like a murderer. Someone needs to call the police to have checked out.
      Shove that gun up your ASS.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  7. Useyourbrain

    Hate is on the rise in this country. Be you Jew, Muslim, Arab, Black, Asian, Mormon, or whatever, you will be targeted. One reality is, as this nation suffers economically, convenient scapegoats become the easy target for ones own personal failures. Isn't human nature great?

    January 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Chester

      Just ask the Germans.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • glu

      I feel hate now being white too. I've never felt that way in my life until the last few years.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  8. A Message from Jesus

    When are you goyem going to stop persecuting the Jews? Have you forgotten I was one myself? And while I've got your attention, will you so called "Christians" PLEASE stop starting wars in my name? Oy Vey!

    January 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Max Powers

      uh, sorry.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Jesus FINALLY placed the blame where it should be. On HIM.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • hez316

      which war was started in His name? Hundreds of years ago or recent?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Are you a Christian? Big Jesus fan are ya? I need to know that before I can answer.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  9. Dr. Sardonicus

    @JJStuart1: I love Roger Waters too, but I don't base my opinions on his songs...

    January 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  10. jmb2fly

    Amazing.......the voices of darkness....

    January 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  11. fred

    Why does a local incident make national news?? If someone firebombed a pizza parlor, does it get national attention?? Unlikely.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Wilma

      You do realize that this is the 'Belief' blog, don't you? Also, I'm fairly certain that if a pizza parlor was bombed somewhere in the US that it would indeed make the news. Try finding something tangible to carp about.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • reindeer

      Only if is Goldberg's Pizzeria

      January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  12. Button

    The world has been torn to pieces throughout history because of one minority tribe. They should have been wiped out.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • White Rose

      Toothless, obese, inbred, armchair warrior, chickenhawk waste of sperm. I know one shouldn't feed the trolls, but in your case I'll gladly make an exception.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • roflcopter

      They should of let hitler finish the "job" then took him out. Its an abomination that these vermin have been allowed to breed like rats since WWII. I hope Iran finishes them off with a nice nuke in the snuke.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • festus

      Fu_k you Nazi.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  13. p41

    I believe that jew!sh people are gre3dy, and very racist against people of c0lor. Jewz need to stop playing the anti-semitic card. You are not the original children of israel...they were, and are people of c0lor. Grow up; Read a real history book; Deal with it.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Kishmere613

      Yeah – that's why they airlifted tens of thousands of black Ethiopians from the squalor they were living in in Ethiopia to Israel and that's why it was the Jews who marched arm in arm with Martin Luther king jr. – maybe it is you who needs to read a history book,

      January 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • D Gandy

      Are you kidding me? Jews have been on the forefront of racial equality. The blacks don't deserve their support. Jews are hated because they decided long ago not to accept Jesus, to stick to their faith, to educate themselves, and to become successful. Any other group, under the same level of persecution, would have died out long ago. When Americans wouldn't hire Jews earlier in the 20th century, the Jews started entire fields of business, like department stores and Hollywood, and became successful professionals, and that continues to this day. In every country that Jews reside in, they become leading citizens and successful. When things go to hell, Jews have always been scapegoats. It's all jealousy, plain and simple.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Chester

      Truly, you are a load your mommy should've swallowed. By the way, she doesn't know who your father is either.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • matt

      Jews are geedy they work hard to make it in life some of the best minds, rockstars, actors,actress are Jewish instead of sitting in your moms basement and playing xbox you should do research on the jewish people and there accomplishments. Work hard in life to be the best you can be

      January 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Kishmere613

      Does ur history book have the story of the Israeli medical team that went to haitii after the recent major earthquake and saved dozens of lives and deliveredd the first baby in haiti after the quake (mother named the baby Israel by the way)? Haiti is all white people right?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  14. Like It Is

    Read David Duke's "My Awakening" for an insight as to why people behave this way. An issue that is never discussed in the tightly controlled media.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Captain Kirk

      David Duke? The Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan? What a dingbat you are!

      January 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Chester

      When I want to read fiction, I stick to comic books.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • David Detritus Duke

      My Awakening, as impressively squalid and putrescent as it is, cannot compete with the verminous, rancid, soiled "man' himself.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  15. Richard

    The tail does wag the dog. The U.S.,. if if signed off on things like the Can-U.S. oil pipeline, could wean itself off Middle Eastern oil, since the only get about 20% of their oil from there now. But that would mean less need for influence in that region. No more oil embargoes, no more wars there. But that is not in Israel's interest, or Pakistan's or Egypt's. Americans are sick of that region, and the vast sums of money expended to stay there.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Tim

    Why are the Jews always being hated & persecuted? Seriously., I want to know. . . The fact that they have survived thousands of years of this is pretty admirable.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • hez316

      I I think it goes far beyond Jews being influential in the financial arena. I believe its a spiritual issue. Rev 12: 1-6, 13. The woman iis Israel. The roots of antisemitism go back a long way.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • D Gandy

      Tim, I have tried for years to understand that myself. Nobody seems to know. All of the common reasons can be shot down.
      The death of Jesus, according to the Boble, was God's will and God's plan. Jews were forced early on to handle money. If Jews control certain areas of our business, it's because nobody would hire them and they had to find a way to survive. They place an emphasis on education, even when most all of them were poor. Personally, I think it came about because Jews decided that Jesus was not the messiah. After that, there's a lot of jealousy. Jews, as a whole, don't commit many crimes, pay their taxes, don't proselytize, and contribute to society. So again, I think it's mostly jealousy but it's mind-boggling.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  17. Stan

    WASHINGTON - George Washington University officials said a Jewish student who complained about swastikas showing up on her door put them there herself.

    The student lives in Mitchell Hall, where half a dozen swastikas had shown up on her dorm room door in the past several weeks.

    University police set up a hidden camera. They said the girl admitted responsibility Monday.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • hez316

      I I doubt the Rabbi firebombed his own house

      January 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Next you're going to say that the Holocaust was mass suicide.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  18. Take it All

    Mayor D – We created language and math stupid. Research Abraham who came from Mesopotamia, you'd know as present day Iraq. Yep, you guessed it, we're Arabs and you came from us, so that makes you an Arab/Jew too stupid.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  19. Macho Mel

    Where do these people get these hateful ideas???
    Mel Gibson

    January 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Iron Felix

      Why, from gold-digging, mail-order Russian wh0res, of course.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  20. A voice of reason

    More frightening to me than the anti-semetic crimes in NJ are the comments on this board. I mean, you realize that the people at these places are your friends and neighbors, that these are attacks against Americans right in your communities, right? I would not be okay with someone firebombing a jail filled with criminals, let alone a house of worship with children inside. Think hard about this one.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Max Powers

      Puts up "Unreasonable People Only" sign and kicks you out. Just kidding, but you are a minority here.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.