Jewish Institutions Face Another Wave of Bomb Threats

“I haven’t seen anything like this in terms of a sustained campaign,” says one hate-crime expert.

People returning to a JCC evacuated in Florida in late February.Wilfredo Lee/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


At least five more Jewish community centers around the United States received bomb threats on Tuesday, including in Milwaukee, Miami, Portland, Oregon; Rochester, New York; and the DC metro area, the Huffington Post reported. Offices of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, also received threats in multiple locations.

The incidents mark the sixth wave of such threats since early January, bringing the total to around 100, according to Mark Potok, an expert on extremism and hate crimes at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Headstones have also been vandalized in at least three Jewish cemeteries around the country. On Friday, a troubled ex-journalist was arrested in connection with threats against eight Jewish community centers, although he appeared to be a copycat and federal law enforcement officials told the New York Times that he was not believed to be behind most of the threats.

Potok sees a disturbing new trend. “I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years now and I haven’t seen anything like this in terms of a sustained campaign of bomb threats,” he says. “The cemetery desecrations—that’s more of the kind of thing we see in Europe, in countries like Poland and Estonia, where there’s a lot of residual anti-Semitism,” he added.

More than a month after the wave of threats began, President Donald Trump denounced the rising anti-Semitism, but critics say he hasn’t gone nearly far enough to reject America’s emboldened far-right hate groups.

The number of active hate groups in the US rose to a near-historic high of 917 in 2016, according to a tally by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among hate crimes motivated by religious bias, anti-Semitic attacks continue to be the most common: There were 664 such attacks in 2015, according to the most recent FBI data.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate