Opinion |

45 Days, 190 anti-Semitic Incidents: Why Hasn't Anyone Been Arrested?

Jewish communities have been terrorized by bomb hoaxes on an almost daily basis for over two months, but no one has been held responsible.

Asher Schechter
Asher Schechter
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Asher Schechter
Asher Schechter

The American Jewish community is reeling.

Since the beginning of this year, over 80 bomb threats against Jewish community centers have been reported in 30 U.S. states. In the past 24 hours alone, at least 21 Jewish establishments in 13 states – including eight schools – were forced to evacuate after they received bomb threats. This was the fifth – I repeat: fifth – such wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers since early January.

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In the past week alone, two Jewish cemeteries, one in Philadelphia and another near St. Louis, have been desecrated, and the national headquarters Of Anti-Defamation League received a bomb threat. Add to that the spike in hate crimes, anti-Semitic and otherwise, that took place over the last few months. According to the Secure Community Network, a non-profit organization “dedicated to homeland security initiatives on behalf of the American Jewish community,” in the past 45 days there have been 190 incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions across the U.S.

Credit: Haaretz.com

There is no other way to say this: This is terrorism. Dozens of concurrent bomb threats targeting Jewish centers don’t just happen coincidentally – the American Jewish community is clearly under attack. Undeniably, this is also not an isolated, localized problem, but a nationwide crisis.

>> READ MORE: 29 bomb threats against Jewish centers across U.S. in fifth wave | Map and list of bomb threats | Bernie Sanders: Trump's failure to condemn anti-Semitism 'troubling' | Herzog: Israel must prepare to take in U.S. Jews fleeing anti-Semitism | Explained: Are anti-Jewish hate crimes increasing since Trump? | Trump apologists diminish anti-Semitism and distort reality / Analysis >>

Which begs the question: Where the hell are the federal authorities in all of this?

So far, other than a few belated, weak condemnations, the federal government’s response to the wave of threats against Jewish centers has been mind-bogglingly lackluster. Dozens have been threatened and evacuated since January, and yet no arrests have been made following these events.

Two months into this unrelenting wave of bomb threats, and the official response of the FBI and the Justice Department is that they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country.” In a statement, the FBI said it will “collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this is matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

To be fair, it would be untrue to say that no arrests have been made in relation to the recent spate of anti-Semitism. In South Carolina, a white supremacist named Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell was arrested this month after reportedly planning a mass killing of Jews in a synagogue, a la Dylann Roof. He was arrested after attempting to buy a gun from “an undercover agent posing as a hitman for the Aryan Nations,” according to the Daily Beast.

As of this writing, McDowell's is the only high-profile arrest made following the recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents – and that simply won’t do. With Jewish communities terrorized by bomb hoaxes on an almost daily basis, it stands to reason that the response by federal authorities should be much quicker and more powerful than it has been so far.

After all, it’s not like that this is the Lufthansa heist: Most likely, the people committing these hoaxes are not criminal masterminds. So why is it that authorities have been so unsuccessful in tracking them down?

People evacuated because of a bomb threat return to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center and David Posnack Jewish Day School, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Davie, Fla.Credit: Wilfredo Lee/AP

Some of it might have to do with the fact that the Trump administration seems to have other priorities in mind. After being criticized by the left and the right for his curious refusal to address the recent spate of anti-Semitism incidents, President Trump has said that “anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop,” but offered no concrete plan to stop it. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that the president “continues to be deeply disappointed and concerned” about the incidents of antisemitism, but again: No concrete plan was offered.

Vice President Mike Pence did deliver a much harsher condemnation of anti-Semitism last week, but this, unsurprisingly, has done little to quell the wave of threats.

As hate crimes committed against Jews and other minority groups (mostly American Muslims) increase, the Trump administration seems to deliberately, blatantly disregard the threat posed by white supremacist groups. According to a recent Reuters report, the administration is planning to shift the government program designed to counter all forms of violent extremism to focus solely on Islamic radicalism, thereby significantly increasing the risk that far-right extremists will be able to commit mass shootings and other hate crimes without being detected and foiled.

Amazingly enough, in the face of what some experts are calling an “unprecedented” wave of anti-Semitic threats, the administration is reportedly considering eliminating positions within the State Department in charge of combating anti-Semitism around the world. Alarmingly, the response to anti-Semitism seems to be less action, not more.

This is scary, to say the least – and also, sadly, not unique to anti-Semitism. The administration has so far been reluctant to address the wave of hate crimes against minorities throughout the U.S., and the result has been an enormous surge of extremism.

This wave has no doubt been animated by the government’s dillydallying. It will undoubtedly increase without a stern, official response.

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