Antisemitism in U.S. Reaches Fever Pitch

‘Open Season’ on Jews – Threats, Vandalism, Protests and Attacks


Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred have reached a fever pitch in the U.S. as attacks become increasingly aggressive and openly violent. Hatred and bigotry are moving out of the shadows and into the daylight with more overt attacks against Jews and vandalism of property. The right to free speech is one of America’s most irrefutable and cherished values, but when it oversteps into blatant acts of hatred that target individuals and minority groups, it crosses a line that must not to be tolerated.

“Raise your hand if you’re a Zionist…this is your chance to get out…” – pro-Hamas protester

The threatening and intimidating demand was called out aboard a New York City subway car as part of a call-and-response chant led by a pro-Palestinian group of protesters. The leader, with a Palestinian keffiyeh covering his head and face, ordered all passengers to repeat after him as he called for anyone who was a Zionist to raise their hand, and leave the subway. The rest of the protestors in the group echoed his words. The incident was on June 10 at the bustling 14th Street-Union Square subway station while the train was stopped with the car’s doors open. When no one responded, the anti-Israel protester announced, “OK, no Zionists, we’re good.” Police were called to the scene and protestors clashed with officers in the subway station.

“Threatening New Yorkers based on their beliefs is not only vile, it’s illegal and will not be tolerated,” City Hall spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak told The Post. “Mayor Adams has been clear: New York City will always protect the right to free speech, but we will never allow our city to descend into lawlessness. Anyone with information about those responsible for this illegal conduct should contact the NYPD immediately.”

Another alarming episode of blatant antisemitism and anti-Zionism was committed just above the subway, where pro-Hamas protestors took to the streets right outside of the The Nova Music Festival Exhibition honoring the murdered victims of the festival on 10/7. A loud and chaotic demonstration erupted where anti-Israel protesters held banners declaring “Long Live October 7!” along with flags of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups. One pro-Palestinian activist, Nerdeen Kiswani, proclaimed the Nova festival was “a rave next to a concentration camp” and called the exhibit “propaganda used to justify the genocide in Palestine.” Demonstrators shouted, “long live the intifada,” a reference to times of historical Palestinian violence against Jews. They also set off smoke bombs and flares into the sky leaving a hazy red and green fog lingering in the air – the colors of the Palestinian flag.

NY Mayor Adams told media: “I thought it was despicable. It was disgusting what we saw. And you cannot call for peace while you are celebrating what happened on October 7…that’s like you are desecrating the graves.”

Even Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal critic of Israel, blasted the protest: “The callousness, dehumanization and targeting of Jews on display at last night’s protest outside the Nova Festival exhibit was atrocious antisemitism – plain and simple,” she wrote on X.

Adding a new layer to their grief, Nova victims’ families are grappling with understanding the public’s support for the terrorists who killed their loved ones. One parent, Manny Manzuri, said “I cannot find the words for how I felt when somebody shouting and supporting the people who murder your daughters,” he said. “It was like they killed me again and again and again.”

The Nova exhibit is titled October 7th 06:29 AM – The Moment Music Stood Still, which was on display in Tel Aviv for 10 weeks before traveling to New York. It was created to commemorate the massacred, while striving to help heal the dance community. The “we will dance again” initiative has become a resounding anthem since 10/7 and a universal call to bring hope and healing to the Nova festival survivors.

Left side: A commemorative wall at the Nova exhibit with individual photos of those murdered at the festival. The area features candles and postcards where visitors can write messages. [Courtesy of the Nova Exhibition] | Right side: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer standing in front of the commemorative wall at the Nova exhibit [Screenshot-X]

The next day, in a different New York borough, the homes of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak and other Jewish board members were vandalized in a blatant act of antisemitism – each targeted simply for being Jews. In the early hours of the morning, anti-Israel extremists brazenly smeared and splattered red paint across the front of the director’s home along with a symbol – a red upside-down triangle – used in Hamas propaganda videos to mark Israeli targets. Pasternak was labeled a “white supremacist Zionist” after weeks of protests against the museum. The banner was also stamped with handprints in red paint, with the term “Funds Genocide” repeated across the bottom of the banner. On the ground, “Blood on Your Hands” was painted in large block letters in front of her home.

Leader of Within Our Lifetime and pro-Hamas activist, Nerdeen Kiswani, who also condemned the Nova festival exhibit, defended the act of overt vandalism in a series of posts on X, saying the museum, ironically known for its more progressive exhibits, was “supporting genocide.” She also said that “claiming this is about antisemitism is stupid and cheap.”

NY Gov. Kathy Hochul pledged: “We stand with the Jewish community in the face of hate and will continue to fight antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated on the Senate floor: “Every single American needs to see this. This is the face of hatred. Jewish Americans made to feel unsafe in their own home – just because they are Jewish.” Schumer added, “This is not even close to free speech. This is intimidation. It is scapegoating. It is dehumanization. Invasive attacks loaded with the threat of looming violence. It is vile. It is nasty. It is un-American.”

Other acts of vandalism from the past week using red paint might be connected to the incident at the Jewish museum director’s home and are currently being investigated. Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached a record high last year, up 140% from 2022, and 350% since 10/7 according the the ADL. The NYPD reports that there were 55 antisemitic incidents in May 2024, the highest in six months. The post 10/7 spike in antisemitic events has not slowed and Jews remain the most targeted group for hate crimes nearly every month.

German writer and Nobel Prize winner, Herta Muller, wrote an open letter about a ‘madness’ that has gripped parts of Western society since Hamas attacked Israel. The letter is a bold wake-up call to the West:

“Is it right to think of the Nazi massacres on October 7? I think it is right to do so, because Hamas itself wanted to evoke the memory of the Shoah.” Another reminder of the Nazis: the red triangle from the Palestinian flag that marks targets to be attacked.

“I am appalled that young people, students in the West, are so confused that they are no longer aware of their freedom. I also wonder whether the students at many American universities know what they are doing when they chant at the demonstrations: ‘We are Hamas’ or even ‘Beloved Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv!’ or ‘Back to 1948’. Is that still innocent or already moronic?”

1. Zionist is another code word that hatred against Jews hides behind

When anti-Jewish bigots need a way to hide their hate in more socially acceptable ways, they often choose words or names just far enough removed to provide a cover. Hamas propaganda specializes in this strategy. ‘Zionist’ is frequently used as a thinly veiled substitute for ‘Jew.’ Zionism is the belief in the right for Jews to leave in peace and security in their ancestral homeland. Hamas supporters wield the word Zionist as a weapon to demonize Jews and delegitimize Israel’s existence. This linguistic sleight-of-hand allows individuals to mask their hatred of Jews. Anti-Jewish bigots don’t want to be called out for targeting Jews but believe they can get away with criticizing Israel and Zionists.

2. Hatred towards Jews should receive equal outrage to any other group

If any other minority group is singled out, vilified, targeted or assaulted, public outcry quickly follows. But when it’s a Jew who is the target of a hate crime, when calls for death to Israel and Zionists are being chanted on the streets, and Jewish students feel terrified to walk across their own campus, all too many go quiet. Silence becomes complicity and Jews, a mere 2% of the population, are left alone to defend themselves. No religious or ethnic group should be villainized and left alone to fight that battle. Friends and supporters of Jews and Israel must stand in solidarity and end the silence.

3. It’s 2024, but for Jews, it has the horrifying echo of 1939

Jews being excluded from public spaces and being the targets of blame for the world’s woes is inciting fear for Jews worldwide. History’s haunting echoes from the 1930’s and the Holocaust are creeping up in the collective Jewish memory. This historic trauma adds extra layers of sensitivity to a people with a battered past. Now, in cities across Europe and North America, Jewish facilities, organizations and synagogues require either police or military guards outside and constant surveillance. In many places, Jews are afraid to wear identifiably Jewish clothing or jewelry or draw public attention to their Jewishness. The painful, collective memory unifies Jews and civilized society, but also serves as an early warning system when we see history’s patterns begin to repeat themselves.

4. Anti-Zionism = Antisemitism

“When Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism. And that is unacceptable.” – The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism was adopted by more than 40 countries, high-profile universities and institutions, and is used by all U.S. executive departments and agencies that enforce Title VI civil rights protections. The definition explains what constitutes antisemitism. It is common for opponents of Zionism to say that they are merely criticizing Israeli policies when they are actually opposed to the existence of Israel in any form. Anti-Jewish hatred has often been cloaked in anti-Zionist rhetoric, using it as a smokescreen to perpetuate harmful stereotypes, deny historical facts and delegitimize Israel’s existence.

5. Zionism is an integral part of Jewish identity for most American Jews – not a political stance

More than 80% of American Jews state that Israel is an essential or important part of what being Jewish means to them. Passover and Yom Kippur both conclude with the phrase: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Israel encompasses a deep connection to Jewish history, religion, culture and the aspiration for a homeland. Recognizing Israel’s significance as a safe haven in the aftermath of persecutions, pogroms, expulsions and the Holocaust, Zionism serves as a unifying force that binds Jewish communities across the diaspora. It goes beyond policy debates, embodying the resilience of a people who have endured centuries of adversity. Dismissing Zionism as mere politics overlooks its profound cultural and spiritual relevance.

You might hear: Jews call any criticism of Israel antisemitic.

REALITY: Israelis have been protesting against the current Israeli government for more than a year, and since its statehood in 1948, have openly challenged government policies. It would be absurd to consider this antisemitism. The widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism is clear that criticisms of the Israeli government that are just like any other government, are not antisemitic. Criticism of the Jewish state that crosses the line into anti-Jewish hate includes denying Jews self-determination, stating Israel’s existence is racist, applying double standards, characterizing Israelis using blood libels and ludicrous comparisons between Israeli policies and the Nazis.

A. Jews should proudly display their identity; non-Jews should show solidarity and support

Jews proudly displayed their identity at the recent Israel Day Parade in NYC – wearing Stars of David, waving Israeli flags and marching in solidarity. Non-Jews learning about Jewish history, customs and beliefs, challenging stereotypes and actively opposing anti-Jewish hate fosters unity and understanding. Jews and non-Jews stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder walking for miles in the parade. This visible show of unity displays a sense of belonging and creates a society where everyone feels accepted, respected and valued.

“The best response to harassment and discrimination is self-confidence and pride.” – Brandeis Center President Alyza Lewin

B.   Jewish institutions must be vigilant in protecting themselves from threats

Synagogues, JCCs, Federations, schools and universities and other Jewish organizations must protect themselves against threats. Jewish institutions must fortify themselves against acts of hate by maintaining a strong relationship with local police and having access to private security organizations. Jewish communities must utilize resources like the Secure Community Network, dedicated to protecting Jewish life. From monitoring social posts in their own neighborhoods to having adequate security procedures to protect employees and members, each community must do their part. A “neighborhood watch” program to keep eyes open for suspicious activity and reporting it to proper authorities is vital to keeping all forms of hate from taking any form of action.

Gaza mosques to Jerusalem Synagogue: A radical Islamist’s journey to Judaism

Almost nothing in the appearance of Yaron Avraham, a religious Jew, can provide any hint of his past life and horrible childhood experiences.

Yaron Avraham wearing his IDF uniform and tefillin. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Avraham was born in Lod to a radical family affiliated with the Islamic Movement in Israel, the 12th child in a household of 18. “We usually start observing some of the Muslim commandments at the age of seven. This is when I was sent to mosques for the first time, aspiring to be a religious and pious man. I would wake up at 5:30 a.m.,” he remembered.

However, growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, he was also exposed to crime at a very young age. “I remember finishing my studies around 3 p.m., finding myself walking around with a backpack full of drugs to distribute between addresses I got.”

Drug trafficking was not the only type of crime he was exposed to. “In our culture, family honor is of the highest importance. It is not a religious matter but a cultural one, with the value of preserving the honor of the family sometimes even bypassing some religious commandments, especially when it comes to women, something the Western world would find difficult to grasp,” he explained.

“Women must uphold the ‘honor of the family’ by essentially obeying everything the men tell them, including how and when to leave the house, how to dress, whether to open a bank account and get a driver’s license…”

Click here to read the full interview

Israel War Update

  • In less than 48 hours, 12 soldiers in three separate incidents were killed in the North or in Gaza. Of those killed, eight died in a vehicle explosion in Rafah, the deadliest incident for the IDF in six months. Victims were eulogized in funerals across the country and hundreds of Israelis attended in solidarity to mourn soldiers they had never met who had given their lives to protect the Jewish state. Some Jewish schools brought the entire student body in coach buses to the funeral in honor of their fallen classmates.
  • Israel has recently killed two high-level Hezbollah leaders by IDF air strike in Lebanon. The death of one of those leaders prompted Hezbollah to launch its largest rocket attack since 10/7 on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot with 215 rockets fired at northern cities, sparking more than a dozen fires and burning more than 11,000 acres of land in Israel’s north over the past two weeks. Hostilities are escalating on Israel’s northern border and fears of imminent war between Israel and Hezbollah, in Lebanon, have both sides preparing.
  • Amid attacks from the North and South, Israel is beginning to again feel the tremors of political strife that have been largely held at bay by the war. PM Netanyahu dissolved the Israeli war cabinet after two key members quit. Tens of thousands of Israeli protesters demanded a hostage deal and elections at nationwide rallies, including recently rescued hostage Andrey Kozlov. Protesters set fire to tents in Tel Aviv in response to government inaction in the north.
  • Ceasefire talks remain in turmoil as Hamas rejects the latest proposal, ignoring the supposed advice from Hezbollah to be ‘flexible’ in response to the ceasefire-hostage proposal. The main sticking points between the parties remain unresolved, including the Hamas demand for a precondition requirement for a permanent ceasefire. U.S. Sec. Blinken said a ceasefire-hostage deal would have happened if Hamas had said one word – yes. The floating U.S. humanitarian aid pier in Gaza was shut down to prevent damage from rough waves. The IDF subsequently announced a ‘tactical pause’ for 11 hours a day along a south Gaza road to enable increased flow of aid.
  • New details have begun to emerge about the health condition and inhumane treatment of the four hostages recently rescued from Rafah. All four face a long road to rebuild their health because of starvation, lack of water and no exposure to sunlight for months. Reports have surfaced that they were abused daily in captivity and faced brainwashing, torture and ‘punishments’ like being beaten every hour, covered in blankets during the hottest time of the day and living under the constant threat of being killed. They were also exposed to daily psychological warfare. One hostage was so intensely brainwashed that when the IDF arrived to rescue him, he thought they had come to kill him. The three male hostages were secretly held hostage for six months by a prominent Gaza family helping Hamas without even their neighbors’ knowledge.
  • Although they still primarily blame Israel, some Gaza civilians are beginning to speak up and hold Hamas responsible for starting the war and bringing death and destruction to them. One civilian was quoted in an Al-Jazeera interview: “This rotten leadership will end up blaming us…it is true that we are steadfast, however, our leadership is scum. Our leadership got used to this bloodshed, may Allah reckon with them!… Swear to me that this video will reach the Palestinian leadership. This massacre at Nuseirat – we could have prevented it!” The clip was censored for containing criticisms of Hamas. In general, however, the majority of Palestinians still strongly support Hamas. A new poll reveals an increase in support of Hamas in both the West Bank and Gaza, with the majority of Palestinians endorsing Hamas control of Gaza.

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Antisemitic Incidents Around the World


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This content is developed by The Focus Project in partnership with Mercaz USA. The Focus Project distributes weekly news and talking points on timely issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people, including antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel. It represents a consensus view across a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations. Mercaz USA recognizes and respects the diversity of views on these issues among its readers and the community at large.

The Focus Project develops and distributes news, background, history and weekly talking points on timely issues to inform individuals and organizations about issues affecting the American Jewish community and Israel, and help readers speak with more consistency and clarity. The editions also provide potential responses for addressing incidents of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. With input from a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations, we focus on that which unites us, rising above political and individual agendas.
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