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. Peggy, So Raise the Reward Amount

    Does that make you happy?

    The $2500 was in the article. Super.

    I read the article but didn't focus on the money. Hmjmmm and I'm Jewish...what's wrong with me I'm messing up you're stereotype.

    Yet you read it and zoomed right in on the $$$.

    People are messed with, bullied, threatened / killed for religion (race, beliefs). If you can see that this is a problem- maybe you're part of it. Probably teaching your little ones all the fine stererotypical slurs so they can perpetuate your racist, bigoted views.

    Your family must be very proud of you.

    But as a human being you're worhtless.

    PS THe ADL figths for Jews the same as the NAACP. You gotta a problem with that...to f'in bad!

    January 13, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  2. Peikoviany

    Another false flag attack. It was Ahmadinejad on a fast camel.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  3. Barry G.

    "Jewish bankers were often accused of fomenting wars." Hitler did mention that, something about the wars being very expensive, blah blah.
    Can anyone state in less than 10 sentences why the German people spent alot of time, efffort and money trying to eradicate the joos?
    It was very costly to have the concentration camps - the buildings, land and distribution was not "free". So what was the reason the germans went through all that expense, time and trouble to get rid of the joos?

    January 13, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Fred

      Barry maybe you can tell me why the moozlims have spent so much $$ and time training people to hit the great Satan. Or kill kristians in egypt. I mean – why would they go through the expense of doing that. If kristians are important part of egypt and lebanon... why kill them? It must mean there's something you can't really trust about a kristian. Right?
      Oh yeah Barry – learn to spell you MORON.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Peikoviany

      Germans needed to forget how the worst war in their previous history was when Lutherans fought Catholics. It cheered them up to say "at least we're not the Joos". It was just about the only thing they could agree on.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  4. Alex

    Most of the people commenting on this article are disgusting. Get over your 1940s Jewish paranoia. I don't see anyone freaking out at Christians for trying to better themselves and their community. It's people like you that keep setting this country back. I know you feel free to spout out on this message boards because you're too cowardly to say it in front of another human being. (One who doesn't share your exact viewpoints, of course.) This act was done because of hate. I suggest you Jewish detractors take a look at yourself before you go and lambast their culture, because you all have some serious issues to deal with yourselves. Have fun living in the third century, losers.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  5. Frank

    So much hatred and bigotry in this country. Guys, don't forget that Jesus was Jew !! His real name was Yeshua BEn Yoseph.
    I understand why this Country is going down now.
    Remember: "Blessed those who bless Israel, Cursed those who curse Israel"

    January 13, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Roger Smith

      To Frank: "Blessed those who bless Israel, Cursed those who curse Israel"

      Ya you are reading from the Jewish invented Bible not the true word of God but to suit their need so to justify the blood of Christ for their children and today our children in America going hungry so we can send money to Israel . God really bless American congress by AIPAC.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  6. Absolutionis

    When someone is called "anti-semetic" for disagreeing with Israel's wacky antics, it's likely that only a small percentage of Americans are actually anti-semetic.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  7. AgrippaMT

    Sympathy for these people? Doubtful. They have urged us into unnecessary wars, cost us trillions of dollars, yet they still want to destroy the Palestinians and expel all Muslims from what they call "the land god gave us." Sorry, no sympathy here

    January 13, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Absolutionis

      Not all Jews are responsible for Israel's atrocities. Remember that not all Jews are Israeli.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Kat

      They want Muslims out of America too. They spread hate in America. Almost all of the Islamphobes leaders, financiers, media operators are the chosen people. They even work with neo Nazis in Europe in their common hate of Muslims.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Seth

      Do you even know what a Palestinian is? It's Latin for Philistine. There are no Philistinians living in what you call Palestine, there are only Arabs. The Occupier of the make believe Palestinian people is Jordan. The truth is out there if you bother to do a bit of research.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Kat

      Seth, go back to England and give America back to the native people.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • To All Anti Semites....

      If Jews being exterminatated by Nazi's is what your concerned about why not move to Idaho and join the local Aryan nations march of the dead.

      Jews didn't start the Mexican American War, Civil War, Spanish American War, WW1, Korean, Vietnam, Grenada, Iran, Iraq or Afgahnistan. Neither did Israel.

      Your hatred is so consuming that you just want to throw mud, knives whatever at Jews...right, buddy?

      Well, when the Pals get their 3rd state (Jordan was mandated as a Pal state..... look it up), Gaza (Hamas) / section of the West Bank (Fatah) and the inevitable suicide attack comes- the blood from Gaza or West Bank should POUR until they leave Israel alone. Putting it on a map might be a good start so their youngsters can learn to stay the F out.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Kat REALLY?

      Kat, have you even read a history book? if you read under the part that says Nazi Germany and WW2 you will realize that the Jewish people would never help the neo-nazis. you are very ignorent and you are the person telling people to go back to another country it sound like you got you education from some 3rd world country. what were you doing in your history class? probably not learning

      January 13, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Fred

      "These People"? As if John Stewart and Bibi Netanyahu have similar views on ANYTHING? Either you're a mind-numbing idiot or you have some hidden agenda. Either way – what you suggest makes zero sense. Jews are as divided politically and religiously as Christians. To lump them all together would be to suggest that Southern Baptists, Mormons and Catholics are "these people" running the world.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • John is an idiot

      Seems like the Muslims have done a good job of doing their own genocide against Jews, Christians, Zorastrians and Hindus. Before you start slamming the jews for Israel, look at the horrible human rights record your own religion has.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  8. Roger Smith, Canada

    Why this even made in CNN to begin with, because it is about the Jewish. There are millions of attacks on Muslims and they celebrate it. Blacks are still slaves in America why so crying here because they are the chosen people. Oh ya it is also anti Semite to comment here unless you are condemning it any other religion specially Islam or Muslims or Black is acceptable. Now the AIPAC congress will come out and give more borrowed money from communist China to our great friend Israel. Let Americans starve so the Israelis and Zionists could continue to rule us and dictate our policy. We need Muslims oils at the same time we need to kick them and kiss Israel only is the best policy to destroy America – call is a conspiracy or Antisemitism I am fine with it.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Soporifix

      "Roger Smith, Canada" = Muhammad abu-Ela, Iraq.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Roger, It's Neither, Just Stupid

      We don't need Muslim oil...we need OIL.

      Think about it .

      January 13, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • The Good Doctor

      OK, Roger, time to get your meds adjusted again.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:30 am |
  9. Saywhaaa

    Nice to know americans hate everyone equally.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  10. Crom2112

    Given all the anti-Semitic I've been hearing from the Occupy Wherever crowd, investigators may want to check out those cats.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  11. LaffinLarry

    I laughed at the measly $2500 "reward" offered for the capture of these vandals and then to see "miserly Jew" as being a stereotype. HA HA HA HA HA HA!!
    I mean really! You can't make this stuff up folks! It just writes itself! HA HA HA HA HA!!

    January 13, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Kat

      haha yea the attacked are so alarming it's worth every penny of the $2,500 award.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Chester

      I would turn them in for free.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Islamisbad

      Don't know where you got your figure from...but it doesn't matter.

      Sorta like how often do YOU beat your wife Larry?

      If the reward is $2500 (not mentioned in this article) it's Cheap / so are Jews. Right?

      If the reward was $1,000,0000 YOU'D condemn it beacuse the Jews control everything/ see themselves as more valuable than non Jews.

      It must be great to have the brain of a one celled animal and write your Anti Semitic vomit.

      Hope you laugh until you choke!

      Have a nice day, @hole.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Absolutionis

      Yeah, I'm not a fan of putting a price on human lives either...

      January 13, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Peggy

      Islamisbad, it's right there in the article. Didn't you read it? The ADL is offering 2500 bucks as a reward despite the probable damages being in the six-figure range. That's not just a horrible ratio of reward vs potential future damages, it's a pathetic joke and only "looks" like a stereotype. Because it's true in the case of ADL but I'd bet there's other Jews out there who would be more generous in seeking to stop these criminals.
      The ADL is not the sharpest tool in the shed. And neither are you for bursting a blood vessel over the truth and thinking it's a lie. Just because someone is Jewish doesn't mean they all act the same, but when the ADL acts like a stereotype, it's either trolling for more "anti-semitic" statements, or they really are stingy as hell.
      Don't you have any idea how much money they must rake in for all the screaming they do? Surely enough to spend a little more, right? But they didn't. Don't look at me, I'm not the ADL.
      If you don't like them being stingy, then talk to them about it. Get them to up the ante and see if you can get them to quit playing the race card and the victim card too. Anti-semitism is not that big a problem because there can be good reasons to be mad at particular individuals who happen to also be Jewish.
      Just because someone is Jewish does not give them the right to never be questioned or held responsible for their actions.
      But you sure seem to think it does. Get a damn clue and quit assuming everyone's out to get you, idiot.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Fred

      Peggy Sue (like the song) guess what – many Jews don't support the ADL. I never gave them a penny in my life, but I give to other charitable organizations. Some Jews consider the ADL to be a bunch of cry-babies, a pandering Jewish "Uncle Tom" if you will. Orthodox Jews in particular often loathe the ADL. Not suggesting you're right or wrong to criticize its "reward" – just stating that many Jews don't really support it at all. Rabbi Kahane (far right, orthodox) used to blast the ADL....

      January 13, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  12. Chris

    Hey rabbi, watcha doin?


    January 13, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Islamisbad

      He's probably watchin you Chris.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  13. Kat

    They are not attacking Jews. They are attacking the 1 percenters.

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

      And I'm not attacking morons...just idiotics .

      January 13, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  14. Kat

    Israel gives Jews bad name. Israel is a fascist terror apartheid state with horrible human rights records against non-Jews, in the name of the Jewish people.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Julie

      educated in a public school? the terrorists are not the Jews get a clue Kat!

      January 13, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Kat

      Julie, Sunday hate school education? can you read? check out Israel's human rights records.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Julie

      Isreal's human rights record? Let's compare it with all the muslim attrocities just in the past decade – there's no contest who the terrorists are. I fell bad for you that your hatred of Jews blinds your ability to see the truth

      January 13, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Soporifix

      This is the kind of ignorant spew that leads to the attacks in the article. I suggest buying a dictionary and looking up words like "apartheid" and "fascist" so you actually know what they mean before you use them again. As for its record of treatment of "non-Jews," Israel does just fine so long as the non-Jews in question aren't committing suicide bombings and airport massacres.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Absolutionis

      Julie, Israeli Extremist is to Muslim Extremist as Average Jew is to Average Muslim. Don't let the few represent the majority. Your opponents use that to hate on all Jews, and your argument looks just as silly when you use that same logic to hate on all Muslims.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Kat

      Julie, yes they compare, even worse. Israel's human rights records closely resemble nazi Germany and formed apartheid of South Africa, where non-jews are denied basic rights, daily robbed, murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and confined.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Joe

      Just be objective and rack up the deeds. The new in is that "Israel is the biggest problem", so to prove this is not an antisemetic sentiment just list the attrocies of each country and do a compare. No emotion, people killed, rights, etc. Then weight the attricies and do the math. So I await the numbers.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • To All Anti Semites....GO F' URSELVES!

      Kat, you are one of the most ignorant posters on this board. Congratulations.

      You spread lies about Jews hating Muslims / being in charge of Anti Muslim groups. You don't mention that CAIR was founded / funded by a terrorist organization: HAMAS. You don't mention that Palestine doesn't exist- but will . You don't mention that the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1940's worked with the Nazis to kill Jews.

      You are living proof of the Nazi propaganda machine: Tell the big lie because most people will believe it.

      If 4,000 Jews didn't show up on 9/11 (do you live in the USA...do you know ANYTHING about HR, privacy, freedom of religion....this was as Saudi Wahabbi PR piece) I wonder how many Muslims planted the explosives in the WTC that helped bring it down?

      January 13, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Steve

      Kat: all over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv at dawn, and four more times during the day, you hear the cry of the muezzin from the minarets, calling the Muslim faithful to prayer. Muslims and all faiths have complete religious freedom in Israel. You will probably think I am lying. But actually I'm not.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Fred

      Sometimes I wish Israel would drop nukes on all the moozlem capitals. I mean – Americans just don't have the b*lls to do it. At least then your rabid hate of Jews – comparing them to extermination camps – would have some basis. Of course your family in Cairo would be dust. But at least your dad would have 71 hairy virgins ... every day. Yeeeeeeah

      January 13, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Kat REALLY?

      kat go look up the United States human rights recored, look up the British humans right record also look up the Iranian and Iraqi human rights records then compare. you will see that no country has a perfect track record when it comes to human rights. wile you are looking you should fined some info about the the British killing irish civilians and the united states invading and slottering islands in the Pacific also you will see all the killings of the Kurds. Israels Humans Rights Record is pretty clean compared to all the other nations in the world. Israel does what it can to survive and they will always have my supports and the US government on there side. SO if to all the jew hating idiots that never went to school or even thought about coming out of the rock they live under will see that ISREAL NEVER WORKS WITH NAZIS OR ARE NAZIS NORE ARE THEY TERRORIST. Israel actually kills any found Nazis not neo-nazis, but it is illegal to be a neo-nazi in israel. so how about you stop talking KAT and actually pull your head out of you but and realize that you are wrong

      January 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Really?

      Kat – You must be an eight grader who read one article (written by Hamas) about "The Arab – Israeli Conflict." Grow up and do your homework. You're ignorant. You've never been to Israel. You don't know any Jews. Tell your Dad to stop coaching you on how to be a bigot. Each comment you write gives you and your family away as a hate-filled buffoon. People like you ruin our country, embarrass us abroad, and make us all worried about what's next. Go back to your Klan meeting, or better yet, under your bridge. Loser.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  15. sickofmorons

    Where were the GOP candidates when this happened? Just wondering....

    January 13, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  16. The Dude

    $2,500 reward? What a bunch of Jews.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  17. John

    The Jews are always attacking themselves to accuse the community of antisemitism get money in return and continue perpetuating the myth that they are just innocent victims.

    The Jews have been expelled from hundreds of countries for reason and it's time for America to kick them out.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Scott

      c'mon, John. really? america is not doing well and that's your solution. please contribute in a more constructive matter.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Tko

      So gee I guess the story is true–it's clear from what you say that anti-Semitism is, in fact, on the rise!

      January 13, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • logic

      John, you are FREAKIN BRILLANT and spot on with this comment. Finally someone willingly to speak against the jewish monopolization of the media and higher powers in the US without concern of being labeled as an anti-semitic.
      Speak out more and let the world know...

      January 13, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Jacob

      It is racist, ignorant people like YOU that impede the growth of our great nation and collective consciousness – and tarnish America's reputation – by continuing to seek out scapegoats and blame others – NOT jews (or anyone else for that matter) – instead of working constructively to solve problem and contribute positive energy to our world. Shame on you.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Chester

      Let me guess – the holocaust was a hoax, right?

      January 13, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • bib

      hey john. you are not very bright, are you. Did you have a tough time in school?

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

      you went to the same public school as Kat ..... I guess it's true, ignorance is bliss – you and Kat must be happy in your lil house of hatred

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

      You are the ignorants, take a look at the people who caused the economic collapse, they are all JEWS. The media is owned by Jews, the banks are owned by Jews, Jews control our foreign policy through AIPAC, the Jews knew about 9/11 and did nothing to warn us, the Jews have been expelled from hundreds of nations and you morons think it was for no reason?

      January 13, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Soporifix

      I suspect "John"'s real name starts with "Abu"

      January 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • furrealz

      hey...wasn't that jesus guy a jew or something?

      January 13, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Jacob

      John.... "Hundreds of nations"? Please name 15 without using google. Main question is – why do you hate – or rather, FEAR – us Jews so much? Shucks, I've got it! Is it jealousy?! Is it because we ACTIVELY participate in society!?!?....Because......wait for it...........we are intelligent, hard working people who don't blame others for our own problems!?!?! Gosh, what an innovation? Why didn't you think of that?? Oh, wait.......my sincerest apologies....that type of thinking is far too advanced for the likes of you.

      Why don't you go crawl back into whatever misery-stricken place/hole/cave it is that you came from and return to this commentary when you can think of something rational, thoughtful, or otherwise intelligent to say.

      Most sincerely,

      An intelligent, hard-working, and incredibly open-minded California Jew

      January 13, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • John is an idiot

      Sound's like John"s got a jew problem. There are over 5 billion people in the world and you mean to tell me that fifteen million of them run it? The real problem is people like John. We need to remove them from America.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Really?

      You're the one who needs to be kicked out John. You. Are. Pathetic. PATHETIC. Get a life.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  18. John

    Kinda funny how you read the B.S. responses the Jews on CNN's website, yet you never see this crap over on Fox. At least the conservatives aren't racist. Screw CNN and it's effed up readers. Liberal hypocrites!

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

      Hey John, Would Love To meet You. A Good Jewishc Asskicking Is What You Need....

      January 13, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Really?

      Ha – yes – Fox News deserves losers like you to watch their made up shows.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  19. Amalia Sheran Sharm

    What do you expect? It's an election year.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  20. Sean - NOLA

    "We don't know if we're looking at one person or a group of people" Sounds like the FBI is clueless. With hundreds of billions wasted on the DHS and enforcing the Patriot Act, are we really any safer today then before 9/11?

    January 13, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • The Phist

      Patriot Act! Patriotism! Patriots!

      The terrorists hate freedom.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Jacob

      Sean – I think the only means through which we are even the slightest bit safer is increased scrutiny in airport security...otherwise, completely agreed! It's all semantics and media hype...

      January 13, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Peggy

      Actually we are safer in certain areas now. We have moved resources around quite a bit in the last twelve years.
      Without saying too much, I'm fairly certain we'll catch these idiots. This sort of activity is not indicative of brainiacs, to put it mildly. They will make mistakes and probably already have. It's just a matter of time before something turns up.

      And the ADL numbers are inflated. Their definitions of what is "anti-Semitic" are more unrealistic and inaccurate than the other way around. The ADL is not known for being rational, just vocal. Very vocal.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:37 am |
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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.