Officials gathered in Jersey City on Thursday to condemn the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world – marking the third anniversary of a horrific hate crime that left four victims dead – all shot dead in a bloody attack by two domestic terrorists who deliberately attacked a Jewish supermarket . That day, the police blocked off the area for several hours and finally stormed the building, killing the attackers.
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin says, “I remember that fear—not just the Jewish residents—but all the people who gathered that night, the big crowd. And I will tell you. I continue to see this fear in communities across our country. Because the reality is that hatred has not disappeared in the three years since that terrible day.” Synagogues across New Jersey now have an increased security presence, with law enforcement pledging protection after recent threats. The Anti-Defamation League says New Jersey ranks among the states with the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents — and it’s tracking a sharp increase in vandalism, harassment and assault.
The ADL’s Scott Richman cited many reasons, including our fiercely divided society and the overwhelming influence of social media. He pointed to celebrities – including Donald Trump, who dined with a Holocaust denier. He cited Kanye West and Kyrie Irving as being embroiled in anti-Semitism espoused by radical Jewish Israelis designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “When a celebrity, when a sports figure who has a huge following, says or does something that leads to anti-Semitism or is anti-Semitic, people copy it. People believe that anti-Semitism is normal. It normalizes anti-Semitism,” Richman said.
As part of our story on the rise of anti-Semitism in the US and New Jersey, we spoke to Holocaust survivor Betty Grebenschikow, who lived through the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, or Night of Broken Glass, as an eight-year-old girl. in Berlin. She currently lives in Ventnor and is active with Stockton University Sarah and Sam Shoffer Holocaust Resource Center, lecturing and fighting anti-Semitism. Watch the full interview:
Major funding for Exploring Hate was provided by the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poita Programming Fund to Combat Antisemitism, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Charlotte and David Ackert, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and Joan Gantz Cooney and Patti Asquith Kenner. For a complete list of funders, please visit: pbs.org/exploring