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. ElreyJones

    Find those who firebombed the synague and hang them. Problem solved. Still, don't call me anti-semitic everytime I believe the Jews are at it again with the power hungry moves. They have too much power and had a heavy hand in communism/bolshevism and the mass genocides in in the Soviet Union. Still I'm not for harming one hair on their heads. Not one. All I want is my freedom to say exactly what I believe to be true. And I believe the Jews have greatly undermined our republic because they are manipulative and have far far far too much power. They are deceitful and I don't trust them. Still I will fight with them to protect them. I don't believe that any one group can be scapegoated for all our problems. Let face it, the Jew isn't raping, robbing, and looting, and murdering like africans in America are. They aren't flooding into our country illegally and unwanted like some groups. They didn't bring slaves over to America like some groups or subjegate Native Peoples like some groups. Everyone has their flaws it would appear. God will hopefully be merciful enough to realize we were all idiots and need bigger brain sizes in order to make a better impact on the Earth that he created.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Sean - NOLA

      I hope you've saved enough money for some serious long-term therapy. You are obviously not playing with a full deck. Try peddling that, Protocols of the Elders of Zion with your Aryan friends! That dog just won't hunt here anymore...

      January 13, 2012 at 12:10 am |

    Shylock is a funny word! LOL

    January 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  3. brokenteeth

    Unfortunately the East coast is very anti -semetic and racist . .

    January 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • nancybrad

      Do not trust ANY Jew!!!

      January 13, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  4. bribarian

    It's interesting a lot of people think they aren't working together. Well it's quite clear many are working together. They've worked diligently in american politics to get money, weapons, and support for Israel. They'll happily get america into wars as we can see with the latest round of iran warmongering. The media of course has always been united behind israel. To say they aren't working together is somewhat laughable.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Happyasiam

      You're confusing Jews with Israel. Not all Jews are pro-Isreal. Learn some critical thinking (look the term up) and learn the difference between a Jew and a Zionist.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Sean - NOLA

      Alternately, not all Zionists are Jews either!

      January 13, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • bribarian

      Semitism always comes before anti-semitism

      January 13, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  5. Dan

    I do believe that the economy has a lot to do with this. Things may have been worse over all in 2008-9, but those who have been without work for a long time are more desperate. Not to mention that the US doesn't count as unemployed those who are no longer receiving benefits, so it really is worse than they are letting on. My sister is babysitting under the table, because she has been laid off since 2008 and cannot find work at her age, yet she is no longer counted as unemployed by the government.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • chrism

      Very good points. Difficult times can seem to bring out the worst and the best in people. Some become envious of others, look for scapegoats to blame and take out their frustrations on. Sad even today some use the Jews as scapegoats.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  6. AlienShark

    The action portrayed here is unacceptable and I hope the criminals who carried it out get guidance from God and never commit such an act ever again.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  7. Reality

    Talk about money!! Ok, lets have at it:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    -One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    -Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    -Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    -The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    -Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    -All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Dan

      For someone who doesn't believe in God, you sure do waste a lot of time talking about him. Truly, every time I come to these boards, you are here. And it doesn't even matter what the subject is - you turn it into an anti-religion diatribe. Your missionary activities are hilarious! You just like those that you cannot stand!

      January 12, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • chrism

      Excellently put, Dan. I'm amazed I keep seeing this joker too. He doesn't respond when people point out how bad the logic of some the things he copies and pastes is. I guess he figures if there's enough volume its got to be right in there somewhere. God bless him. He's got something he wants to rail against indeed.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • The Phist

      At least Reality posts facts. How bout them believers? Ever post any facts? I haven't seen one yet.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • dbacchus

      Dan, your cliche retort fails flat. Re-read his posts. There is NO SINGLE MENTIONING of what you call 'god' :)))

      January 13, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  8. One view

    The notion of Jews as being some unified whole of one mind is complete rubish. Some Jews do have a lot of power/influence, yes, and not all of them are good people, true. Others are very ethical and moral people. Do even these have blinders at times? Of course, but the same goes for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, and all other groups. It goes for me as well. Bottom-line is, individuals should be judged based on what they do, how they act, how they treat others, not for being a part (sometimes nominally at that) of some larger relgious or ethnic association.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb, the last time we checked, Pres. Obama is surrounded by Jews. As greedy as they're known to be, these Jews are never satisfied. Their war monger PM has the nerve to thumb his nose at a US Pres.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • dbacchus

      Che, it's a simple: those are indeed Jews, but not all Jews are those (war mongerers). End of story

      January 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  9. Snooky

    Sorry, I was just trying to get laid.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  10. gggg

    I don't really hang out with a lot of Jewish folks now. The area I live in really doesn't have that many. The nearest synagogue that I know of is about 30 miles away. Dated a number of Jewish girls. They weren't that much different than me, except they were girls and I'm not. Their parents weren't that much different than mine, except one who would rather have had their daughter marry within their religion, but even they respected their daughters choice to go out with me. But that particular issue also shows up across social boundaries as well. Jewish people are no different than any of the Christians out there except they pay homage to the invisible dude just a little be differently than Christians; and Muslims for that matter. In terms of absolute wealth, they are also not different from the rest of us. The money stereotype is a leftover from the inquisition when the Jews, being generally better educated, were the accountants for the Catholics. But even then, the money wasn't theirs (well, it probably was given that the Catholics stole a ton of money from the Jews during the inquisition). Christians created a false stereotype and now they use it against them? That's a load of BS.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Reality

    This is a free country. No one should live in fear. Catch these culprits and punish them as the law dictates for crimes of hate and terror!!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  12. bribarian

    Some of the things said about Jews are most likely true. But it's always the same, Jews play the innocent victim and everyone else is the bad guy.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Derka Derr

      I agree, they really do seem dug in like ticks and all about power, but inevitably, they are free to do what they want, and if they make it into the system without doing anything wrong, than there should be no problems. I recently heard Romney talk about class envy, that is BS, if there is any envy, it will be for the Jews in high places as it was in Germany. Specifically in America we really need to be careful what we say, what images we portray, just one look at Fox news has to horrify just about anybody if you ask me...

      January 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Nate

      Jewish people are individuals too you know. They aren't a part of some group consciousness. The only accurate way to judge people is as individuals. Only a fool seeks to group others and then slap a label on them. Unfortunately, there are simply too many simple-minded folks who need everything to be black and white, without realizing the nuances of reality.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Logic

      so have either of you two bigots finished that GED of yours yet? What hillbillies

      January 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  13. GhostColin

    Not sure why anyone would do this. Jewish chicks are hot...

    January 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Derka Derr

      Hmmm...this is going a bit too far. Haha.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Jewish chicks are HOT? Naaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrh!
      They don't mow the lawn around the pipe for Christ sake. Its all bushy, bushy!
      If you know what I mean?

      January 13, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • dbacchus

      oh, the joy of internets...

      January 13, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @dbacchus, why are you enjoying the internet?
      You pu**********ss****y whipping some Jewish chick?
      Good for ya! You're the man!

      January 13, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  14. MMallon

    Problems arise when governments try to legislate morality. Hate crimes literally make it against the law to hate someone. it is the only crime in which the motivation for the act is part of what makes the punishment so severe. Throwing firebombs at homes and trying to murder people is already against the law. I don't care why the person did it except by way of explaining to the jury why you think HE was the one responsible and not someone else. If someone is chained to the back of a truck and dragged to death, it doesn't make it hurt more knowing it was because he was black. He's dead now, regardless of the killers' feelings during the time of the incident.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Dan

      Hate crime legislation does not "literally" make it a crime to hate anyone. We do not have a thought police - not yet. It does give the Feds the ability to prosecute crime in a more stringent way, or to avoid double jeopardy if a person fails to be convicted for a crime at the state or local level. You should be concerned with the obvious end-run around the const-itution,

      January 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Maya

      I used to think that too, until I was presented with a very rational argument for the prosecution of hate crimes. First, let me say that hate crime laws do not punish thought. They do not make it illegal to hate someone. They simply punish crimes motivated by bias. Bias alone is not a crime, and no one is suggesting it should be.

      Why punish crimes motivated by bias more than the same crimes with another motivation? It's simple: they are not actually the same crimes. If harm a person because he is gay, Muslim, black etc., you do not do harm to JUST that person. Your goal is twofold: not only do you seek to do physical and mental harm to the person you attacked, but you seek to create fear in the entire population to which that person belongs. If you were [insert targeted group here], and people who belonged to the same group were systematically being attacked, you would justifiably experience fear for your own safety. Intentionally causing fear of bodily harm to another is usually considered a crime of harassment (or perhaps assault, depending on the facts) under the laws of the states. It goes even beyond that, because the act is intended to cause fear in a large number of people. It is, in fact, a targeted form of terrorism. It is not one crime, but two. That is why it should be punished more severely.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Logic

      You seem to not understand what a hate crime is. I'd suggest graduating high school and then maybe you can speak with the adults

      January 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • chrism

      Others have already answered your first fallacy which was it is the crime, not the thought that is being punished. Thinking about harming someone and actually doing it are two different things. Then threats and attempts may lie in between.

      But you're very mistaken on motive. Of course motive matters. Premeditated murder is very different than accidental manslaughter even though in both cases as you so clearly point out the person is dead either way. Can you think of some reasons why that might be the case? Right, because a persons intentions are important in determining both their culpability and likelihood to commit such a crime again. So hate which is mch more than a simple thought anyway is very relevant. Malice and intent to inflict particular suffering is clearly worse than "absense of malice.". And I think that's about as far as us non-lawyers should go. I'm sure if you're interested too there are probably some excellent websites on hate crimes you can read.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • dbacchus

      It's a brilliant argument, Maya. Except that when one kills in a war (especially on foreign territory) the exact same principle applies: the act of killing terrorizes the entire nation. Now, I don’t see the government wishing to prosecute those hate crimes, obviously. War killings are not crimes for the country that conducts the killings, that’s a given. But should we really punish those who motivated by hatred “to the entire population” more than those murderers, who were motived by hate to the specific individual(s)? Terrorizing the entire population is pronounced to be the *legitimate necessary measure* by those who are, let’s say, bombing Belgrade.
      ‘Hate crime’ is an interesting theoretical concept, which practical implementation is, unfortunately, nothing but hypocrisy.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  15. Tony Saprano

    Hey you tell them Jew fuks to pay the juice or we'll play a little game of gas or dare. Capiche? Now pass the fuk'n chicken parm.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  16. bribarian

    Let's face reality, anti-semitism is reactionary

    January 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Face where?
      North or South. Or East or West.
      Make it clear though so that we might know.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  17. Enoch

    Antisemitism is growing at an alarming speed. Here in Europe hatred for everything Jewish is particularly present among the Muslim immigrant population. I have the feeling that Europe + USA aka Babylon will soon join the Arabs to strike against Israel. Very sad, indeed!

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

      yep end times prophecy

      January 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • The Phist

      Babylon? I do believe that was in Iraq somewhere. Not anywhere near the states. Please brush up on your geography.

      By the way, prophecies aren't real.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • maryam

      Anyone who is racially motivated to harm someone should be arrested or deported.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Logic


      ahhahahah oh you bible thumpers sure are funny

      January 12, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Oh please. don't scare us of some Babylon nonsense. The last we believed in some Nebakanezer Babylon nonsense we have 4,800 plus dead US soldiers, 38,000 maimed US soldiers and over a million innocent Iraqis dead and millions plus misplaced. The world at large is still scratching its head why some imbecilic Pres. who reads at 2nd. grade level was able to mislead us. Never again! Keep your delusional fears to yourself and for Christ sake, leave the rest of we normal people alone. Life is too short to be living a life based on someone’s delusions.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Stand corrected: The last time we believed in some Nebakanezer Babylon nonsense ..........................

      January 13, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  18. Bryan

    Not acceptable. These monsters need to be brought to justice. Only mindless sheep would attack another person based on their ethnicity or religious views. No wonder were alone in the universe still, as humans we still haven't figured out were all humans.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  19. Jataka

    Perhaps if they didn't hold a disproportionate amount of wealth and would actually help and invest in people who are non-Jewish, then maybe people wouldn't dislike them so much.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • nancybrad


      January 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Marine5484

      So it's ok to hate a person who is Jewish because they have money? Yeah...you are literally to stupid to insult.

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

      And I wouldn't give you the sweat off my b@lls if you were dying of thirst.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Fred

      The only thing Jews are good at, it dyeing in gas chambers. They can keep their money. They deserve what they got and what they continue to get. The US backs up Israel unconditionally while they have their own Palestine Holocaust. Yet, no one cares?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • blue

      It's unfortunate that you have not heard of Mazon, American Jewish World Service and many, many other very giving Jewish organizations and synagogues.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • dbacchus

      @Chester And that's what the problem is – the self-righteous morons (like you most certainly are, chester). The main problem is that there isn’t much difference between you and those called anti-Semites. In fact, the level of (irrational) hatred is quite comparable, except yours is clearly more hysterical.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Chester

      @dbacchus – Thanks. I thought my comment was funny, too.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  20. steven

    What is an "anti-Semitic view?" Is it the dislike or hate of Jews or someone saying they do not like what Israel is doing? Some people have a huge range of speech that they think means an anti-Semitic view. I do not like Israel building all of those new settlements or some of their intolerance with Palestine, but that should not lable me as anti-Semitic. This is a free country for everyone including Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

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

      What about firebombing synagogues? Is that an anti-Semitic act or just good old fashioned protesting?

      January 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • AlienShark

      This act is unacceptable and I hope the criminals who carried it out get guidance from God and never commit such an act ever again.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • ElreyJones

      Steven is correct. To point out the fact that Jews have far far far too much influence in the media, Wall Street, politics, and law is not anti-semitic. To say you despise Jewish Bolsheviks or Internationalist Jews is not anti-semitic. We are a free people and have a first Amendment Right to speech. The Jew spouts his venom everywhere and I just spout my venom back at them.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:55 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.