We appear to have entered a period of a campaign of terror against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish day schools, and synagogues across the US. The first few weeks the threats were called in on Tuesdays. Last week it switched to Monday.
TODAY: 20 bomb threats against Jewish schools and community centers. TODAY!
One day. Did you get the part about this was just today only? pic.twitter.com/DybYtM9MU0
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) February 28, 2017
— J Tessler (@JZTessler) February 28, 2017
This is on top of a bomb threat being called into the Anti-Defamation League.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) February 28, 2017
Here’s what I think the security issues are going forward:
1) We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.
2) Or he intends to eventually escalate. Specifically after he feels that he has made enough of these, or other copycats have, to create a sense of complacency for the folks at the JCCs and synagogues. Basically emergency alert fatigue. At that point he actually plants a bomb at one of these locations because he figures he’s got a reasonable expectation of casualties because the threats have become commonplace and are no longer being taken seriously.
3) Or, even worse, he never originally intended to escalate, but because the threats have become commonplace the coverage drops way off. He doesn’t get his gratification and as a result escalates in order to get his rush. Basic addictive behavior pattern. Also, serial criminal pattern.
4) Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.
And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.
I think it is also very important to point out and recognize that one of the targets of this campaign of terror are children.
NEW: A Jewish Day School in Annapolis, MD also received a bomb threat — 21 today. Make no mistake: they are targetting children.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) February 27, 2017
While no one has been physically hurt so far as a result of these threats and the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, this is now an ongoing, coordinated campaign of terrorism. The point is to make the children attending these schools be afraid to go to school. It is to make their parents afraid to send them. And to make the teachers, administrators, and other staff afraid to go to work. It is intended to coerce all of these people, as well as members of the wider Jewish American community and the communities of other religious and ethnic minorities in the US. It is also intended to coerce and intimidate the neighbors, commercial or residential, of these institutions to demand they relocate in order to minimize the threat to themselves.
As Chemi Shalev wrote today in Haaretz:
What’s even more dismaying is the fact that Trump is being buoyed by a cadre of enablers and apologists, many of them Jews, who are doing their best to make light of the attacks, to ridicule the growing Jewish apprehension and to absolve Trump of any complicity in the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment. The arguments of these Trump apologists are multilayered: A. Anti-Semitism isn’t growing; B. If it is, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump; and C. Where were you when Obama was president and anti-Semitism was almost official state policy?
All three claims are pathetically nonsensical. If anyone can come up with a precedent in the past few decades for over 50 JCCs being evacuated over the course of a few weeks because of repeated bomb threats, two large scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries and a flood of anecdotal evidence of widespread harassment of Jews in public schools, please do. Definitive statistics are unavailable, awaiting an official determination by the police and FBI about the exact nature of each and every incident, but one would think that warnings by Jewish leaders all across the country, including unaffiliated federation leaders, would at least give Trump’s defenders pause. Do they believe that everyone is in on some left-wing conspiracy to inflate anti-Semitism? Have Jews been consumed by mass hysteria?
As for Trump’s culpability, well, give me a break. Of course it’s hard to pinpoint any direct link between the president and the outburst of animosity towards Jews and no one is claiming that he has any interest whatsoever in seeing anti-Semitism rise. But there is abundant evidence to suggest that the president has been playing with anti-Semitic fire ever since his presidential campaign started in mid-2015. He has been sending subliminal signals to those who would do Jews harm, using well-worn dog whistles even if he doesn’t intend to, and stubbornly refusing to forthrightly project his abhorrence of anti-Semitic incidents.
The list of such messages and gestures is long and well known by now, including Trump’s own stereotypical depiction of Jews in his appearance last year before the Republican Jewish Coalition, his use of the phrase America First, his refusal to disavow the blatantly anti-Semitic imagery of Hillary Clinton with dollars and a six pointed star behind her, and that’s before we even mention his continuing flirtation with white nationalism and supremacism. And despite all the explanations and justifications, the White House omission of Jews from its Holocaust Day announcement and its steadfast refusal to back down, even when apprised of the anguish they caused Jews and the jubilation they sparked among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, remains inexplicable and inexcusable. (much more at the link)
We will once again leave the last word to 18 U.S. Code § 2331, highlighting the relevant part:
(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B)appear to be intended—(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.