US Jews on alert as white supremacists plan antisemitic ‘day of hate’ Saturday
Extremists including neo-Nazis plan to hold rallies, distribute anti-Jewish messaging, but few expected to participate; no known violent threats or specific targets
Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.
NEW YORK — Law enforcement and Jewish groups in the US are urging vigilance ahead of an antisemitic “national day of hate” planned by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups for Saturday.
The white supremacists have called for followers to distribute antisemitic messaging with banners, stickers, fliers and graffiti. There are no known threats of violence and a Jewish security group said it did not expect widespread participation.
“Take a stand, and expose the international clique of parasitic vermin that infest our nation,” said a statement attributed to the hate groups. “Make your voices heard loud and clear, that the one true enemy of the American people is the Jew.”
The New York Police Department said it had not identified any specific threats in New York City, but would be stepping up security at houses of worship out of an abundance of caution.
The NYPD urged New Yorkers to “remain vigilant” and report any suspicious activity.
The Anti-Defamation League said it had been monitoring the situation and various extremist groups have endorsed and shared plans for the day of hate.
The hate groups were likely to carry out antisemitic flier distributions, small protests and vandalism, said Oren Segal, the vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.
The groups are relatively small but garner significant attention due to their “abhorrent activities,” Segal said.
The ADL and the Secure Community Network (SCN), a Jewish security group, issued bulletins to local communities ahead of the expected events on Saturday.
SCN said it had been tracking the extremist calls since early January, when a minor neo-Nazi group called for a “day of MASS ANTI-SEMITIC ACTION” on the Telegram messaging app.
The groups urged followers to “shock the masses with banner drops, stickers, fliers, and graffiti.”
More prominent hate and neo-Nazi groups including the Goyim Defense League and National Socialist Movement picked up on the campaign and promoted it online. The effort is not centrally organized and there have been no advertised locations or times for the activities, SCN said in its situation report.
Online discussions about the event have been limited and SCN said it did not expect widespread participation or violence.
Local communities should remain vigilant, report suspicious activities to law enforcement, and avoid conflict or confrontation with any individuals participating in the campaign, the ADL and SCN said.
Experts say white supremacist groups, many of which were pushed underground over the past decades, have seemingly become emboldened in recent years, staging rallies and regularly broadcasting antisemitic content around the US by distributing fliers, dropping banners over highways, and by other means.
Rabbi Adir Posy, the synagogue services director of the Orthodox Union, said the organization had received word of the threat earlier this week.
“It’s a strong message of hate and something that is clearly meant to drive divisions,” he said, adding that there were no known threats of overt violence and it was unclear if any activities would target synagogues.
“When we see people actually talking to each other and coordinating we have to assume something is going to happen,” he said. “It’s generally a time where we are in a world where we have to increase what we call situational awareness. People should be vigilant.”
The planned day of hate comes as US Jews are already on edge over threats from white supremacists and others.
An antisemitic attacker shot two Jews as they left synagogues in Los Angeles last week. Both victims survived.
Posy, who is based in Los Angeles, said the shootings were preceded by the distribution of antisemitic material in the area.
“There’s very much a feeling within the community of concern and fear, but the positive side of it is that the message has been unequivocal from law enforcement, from elected officials that this is taken as a serious priority and it’s an issue that affects the entire city,” Posy said. He encouraged anyone who witnesses hate crimes incidents, even if they do not rise to the level of crimes, to report them to authorities.
In the past several days, neo-Nazis held small a small rally in New York and harassed Jews in Florida.
A vicious antisemite with a literal and digital megaphone is on the streets trying to normalize harassment and hate speech.
How did we get here? This is not normal.
Our Jewish communities must be kept safe from this pure and unfiltered antisemitic hate. pic.twitter.com/U3GF2vBEMs
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) February 23, 2023
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.
Late last year, New York law enforcement arrested two men and seized weapons after one of the suspects threatened to “shoot up a synagogue.” Police found a Nazi armband with the men’s weapons.
On Wednesday, police testified that the suspect in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado last year had run a website that hosted a neo-Nazi training video on how to attack houses of worship.
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.
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 country 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.