The invisible victims of American antisemitism

By | February 24, 2023

Yair Rosenberg writes:

Last week, a gunman shot two Jews at close range as they departed morning prayer services in Los Angeles. The first victim was shot in the back on Wednesday. The second was shot multiple times in the arm on Thursday, less than 24 hours later. The attacks sent fear pulsing through the Jewish community of Los Angeles, as members wondered if their own place of worship would be targeted next. On Thursday evening, the alleged assailant was apprehended. Prosecutors say the 28-year-old Asian American man had a history of making anti-Semitic threats and possessed both a .380-caliber handgun and an AK-style rifle. It was a harrowing ordeal for America’s second-largest Jewish population. And yet, outside the Los Angeles Times and Jewish media outlets, the story went largely undiscussed on national front pages and cable news networks. The attacks never trended on social media. Which is why you might well be hearing about them now for the first time.

This is not an uncommon occurrence when it comes to American anti-Semitism. Here’s another disturbing story that has garnered little national attention: Over the past several years, local elected officials in New York and New Jersey have systematically worked to pass and impose laws with a single purpose—to keep Orthodox Jews out of their communities. The conduct of those officials was so egregious that the states’ attorneys general, Democrats Letitia James and Gurbir Grewal, respectively, pursued civil-rights lawsuits, alleging deliberate anti-Jewish discrimination.

In the case of Jackson Township, New Jersey, Grewal accused the local authorities of an array of abuses. These included “targeted and discriminatory surveillance of the homes of Orthodox Jews suspected of hosting communal prayer gatherings,” “enacting zoning ordinances in 2017 that essentially banned the establishment of yeshivas and dormitories,” and “discriminatory application of land use laws to inhibit the erection of sukkahs by the Township’s Jewish residents,” referring to the temporary huts built by religious Jews on their property to observe the holiday of Sukkot.

The enmity behind these efforts was not particularly disguised. A Facebook group for an organization opposed to any influx of Orthodox residents titled “Rise Up Ocean County” became so overrun with anti-Jewish invective—such as “We need to get rid of them like Hitler did”—that the social-media company took the rare step of shutting it down. Last month, Jackson agreed to pay $1.35 million to an Orthodox girls school whose opening it had blocked a decade ago. It also recently settled a related lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice by committing to repeal discriminatory regulations and set up a settlement fund for the people affected by them. [Continue reading…]

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