Planned antisemitic ‘day of hate’ instead becomes day of unity, defiance for US Jews

Extremists, including neo-Nazis, had planned to hold rallies and distribute fliers, but ADL says no unusual incidents were reported: ‘This was a Shabbat of peace, not hate’

A solidarity sign with the Jewish community in Nashville, ahead of a planned white supremacist 'day of hate' in the US, February 25, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A solidarity sign with the Jewish community in Nashville, ahead of a planned white supremacist 'day of hate' in the US, February 25, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

No major antisemitic incidents were immediately reported in the United States on Saturday, despite widespread alert over a “national day of hate” that had been planned by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

Instead, officials issued statements of solidarity and demonstrations of unity were held in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, while Jewish communities defied the threats by sticking to their normal Shabbat activities.

Law enforcement and Jewish groups had urged vigilance ahead of Saturday after the white supremacists called for followers to distribute antisemitic messaging with banners, stickers, fliers and graffiti.

“Take a stand, and expose the international clique of parasitic vermin that infest our nation,” said a statement last week attributed to the hate groups. “Make your voices heard loud and clear, that the one true enemy of the American people is the Jew.”

Ahead of the weekend, the New York Police Department had stepped up security at houses of worship out of an abundance of caution and urged New Yorkers to “remain vigilant” and report any suspicious activity.

Summarizing the day, the Anti-Defamation League tweeted Saturday evening that “Increased law enforcement presence as well as heightened community awareness helped to ensure this was a Shabbat of peace, not hate.”

The antisemitism watchdog said that while white supremacists had held protests in Florida and Georgia as well as online livestreams, and antisemitic propaganda was distributed in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona — that had constituted “a pretty typical Saturday in America.”

“In the face of threats and rising antisemitism, the American Jewish community was not cowed,” the ADL said. “We were defiant. We lit Shabbat candles, attended services, and proudly celebrated our faith. Meanwhile, extremists panicked and shared paranoid conspiracy theories.

“We know that the threat does not magically disappear as the sun sets on this so-called ‘day of hate.’ We know that vigilance is part of being Jewish in America in 2023. And we take great comfort in knowing we do not face this darkness alone.”

Experts say white supremacist groups, many of which were pushed underground over the past decades, have apparently become emboldened in recent years, staging rallies and regularly broadcasting antisemitic content around the US by distributing flyers, dropping banners over highways, and other means.

Antisemitic fliers seen in Georgia in February, 2023. (Esther Panitch/Twitter)

The planned day of hate had come as US Jews were already on edge over threats from white supremacists and others.

An antisemitic attacker shot two Jews as they left synagogues in Los Angeles earlier this month. Both victims survived.

Television and newspaper reporters in Los Angeles interview passersby in the Jewish neighborhood of Pico-Robertson following two shootings that occurred in the area in the previous two days on February 17, 2023. (Asaf Elia-Shalev)

In the past several days, neo-Nazis held small a small rally in New York and harassed Jews in Florida.

Antisemitic attackers have murdered Jews in recent years in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.

Earlier this month, an attacker firebombed a synagogue in New Jersey, causing no injuries or damage.

An American Jewish Committee survey earlier this month found that four in 10 US Jews feel their status is less secure than a year ago, and only 4 percent said the situation had improved.

Illustrative: New York police secure a Jewish community event in New York City, May 19, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

An ADL study published earlier Thursday indicated the number of US mass killings linked to extremism over the past decade was at least three times higher than the total from any other 10-year period since the 1970s.

The ADL recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the US in 2021, a 34% increase from the previous year, and the highest since it began tracking in 1979.

In New York, home to the largest Jewish community in the US, NYPD data showed 263 antisemitic hate crimes in 2022, a steep rise in incidents targeting Jews in the past two years.

Luke Tress contributed to this report.

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