What a messed up world we live in. New York-based law enforcement has now identified Juan Thompson as the man allegedly responsible for eight of the 100-plus calls targeting Jewish institutions nationwide this year.
Bravo, law enforcement. You’re doing important work, because as Thompson himself tweeted (while seemingly attempting to deflect blame onto an ex-girlfriend) on February 27:
Another week, another round of threats against Jewish ppl. In the middle of the day, you know who’s at a JCC? Kids. KIDS.— Juan M. Thompson (@JuanMThompson) February 27, 2017
That’s right. I only hope that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office throws the book at Thompson, because only the lowest of the low terrorizes children.
As a mother whose family is actively engaged in the Washington area’s Jewish community—one of the many metro areas affected by this winter wave of calls—this isn’t a political issue for me. It’s a personal one. When some jerk (or jerks) start trying to scare young children, it brings out my inner Mama Grizzly.
The Anti-Semitism You’re Seeing Is a Drop In the Bucket
I’m ticked off. It’s one thing when adults behave badly (or criminally) around one another. It’s another, far greater offense when children are dragged into the ugliness. If that’s not a sign of things being messed up, I don’t know what is.
And before anyone declares this particular episode in anti-Semitic history over, Thompson’s criminal activity is a drop in the bucket: “66 of the 148 JCC locations in the United States have received bomb threats — over 44%. Two ADL locations and several Jewish Day Schools have also received threats.”
So, if Thompson can be tied to only eight of those calls, there’s at least one perpetrator still out there, if not more. That means this isn’t over, nor is our national conversation about rising domestic anti-Semitism.
The Media Only Pays Attention When They Want To
As someone who’s been writing about anti-Semitism for a while, I’m glad that others are now paying attention. And as Ira Stoll recently wrote in the Algemeiner, President Trump’s biggest achievement to date may be inspiring The New York Times to cover the issue, because it’s not as if there’s been a dearth of potential content.
Of the 1,402 victims of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2015, for example, the FBI reported that 52.1 percent involved those with anti-Jewish bias; Muslims came in second at 21.9 percent.
In fact, there were 7,034 (recorded) incidents of anti-Semitism between 2009 and 2015:
210 physical assaults on Jews. 3,900 threats against Jews and Jewish institutions. 2,900 incidents of vandalism. 180 incidents of antisemitism on campus. Every six days, a Jewish person in America was being attacked in 2015 and it went largely ignored. On average, there were threats every day against Jews and Jewish institutions over the last eight years and most of them did not receive headlines.
Why did the media ignore this pattern? Why wasn’t President Obama pressured to comment?
This Issue Should Not Be Politicized
For some, anti-Semitism is a newly appealing topic because it’s a cudgel the left can use to beat President Trump, who has had vocal support from the alt-right. The Forward’s Jay Michaelson picked up on that point; in responding to a suggestion that these threats might be from Trump’s opponents, Michaelson called it “more probable, it’s some degenerate members of the “alt-right,” . . . That’s certainly what we’re assuming.”
Of course, since the announcement of Thompson’s identity, the reaction on both sides has been disappointing. On the left, there are comments that minimize Thompson’s impact on the Jewish community by saying things like, “his actions appear to have been motivated not by anti-Semitism, but rather by a vendetta against a woman he had dated for roughly a year.”
Yes, while Thompson’s primary motive may have been to harass an ex-girlfriend, you don’t get to repeatedly terrorize Jewish organizations and individuals and escape having your actions labeled “anti-Semitic.” On the other hand, at least some conservatives seem pleased about Thompson’s left-wing identity. Is that really what we’ve learned from the recent wave of hatred?
Anti-Semitism Is An Objective Evil
Anti-Semitism shouldn’t be politicized. And I’ll give you three reasons why.
First, anti-Semitism is an objective evil.
Second, Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky was right to observe that anti-Semitism exists on both the far right and the radical left. Anti-Semitism should be marginalized wherever it’s found on the political spectrum.
Third, in all of this, real people’s lives have been interrupted, including those of many children.
So rather than speculate about the identity and political views of the individual or individuals responsible for the remainder of the calls, I’ll wait for the FBI to finish their investigation—hopefully with the full weight and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice behind them. Then, when the guilty party is identified, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Make it happen, General Sessions.