DHS warns law enforcement of rise in antisemitic attacks

·4 min read

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement about increasing attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions, prompted at least in part by the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

DHS called the uptick in antisemitic attacks and current heightened threat environment “an ongoing public safety concern” and urged local, state and tribal partners to watch out for potential flash points that could turn violent, according to a public safety notification issued by DHS and obtained by Yahoo News.

The alert, issued Thursday, asks law enforcement to prepare for violence and to promptly report suspicious activity potentially related to domestic violent extremism.

“DHS has received reports of alleged criminal incidents of assault against Jewish individuals, and acts of vandalism, property damage, and other potential hate crime incidents directed against Jewish facilities, reportedly motivated at least in part by the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” says the notification, which is marked “for official use only.”

“Law enforcement and public safety partners should be alert to these concerns and any potential flash points, which risk an escalation to violence,” the DHS alert says.

 

Hasidim in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Members of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. (John Minchillo/AP)

DHS says in the alert that there’s no information at this time linking recent antisemitic criminal acts to domestic or international violent extremists. “However, we are concerned that current messaging efforts by a range of potential international and domestic threat actors could further inflame tensions,” the document states.

It continues: “Foreign Terrorist Organizations have been exploiting the conflict between Israel and Hamas by calling for supporters in the U.S. to conduct attacks. ... Iran, Russia and China have also recently amplified narratives in an effort to sow domestic and international discord through their interpretation of the U.S. role in the crisis, such as criticism of Washington’s support for Israel in the conflict.”

Other potential flash points include protests where ideological opponents have recently clashed, leading to arrests.

“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to sharing information with our partners to ensure the safety and security of all communities across the country,” a DHS spokesperson told Yahoo News. “DHS will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to safeguard the American people and to prevent violence and other acts meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations based on their apparent or actual race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political views.”

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The alert was sent out as Democratic and Republican leadership spoke at a virtual rally against antisemitism organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and several other prominent U.S. Jewish organizations in response to the recent spike in antisemitic attacks following the military conflict that erupted between Israel and Hamas earlier this month.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the spike in attacks “disturbing” and called on Americans to “come together with urgency and unity to condemn these appalling acts of hatred.”

“Antisemitism has always plagued our world, even when the violence doesn’t make headlines,” she said, insisting that “Today and every day we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community.”

People attend a rally denouncing antisemitic violence
People attend a rally in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Thursday condemning antisemitic violence. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., decried the “latest despicable resurgence in antisemitism around the world,” noting that this week he co-sponsored legislation that would, as he put it, “make sure the bigoted thugs behind antisemitic violence meet the full force of the American justice system.”

The Preventing Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives this week by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., seeks to expedite the Justice Department’s ability to review hate crime threats against the Jewish community and bolster state and local law enforcement efforts to prevent and respond to antisemitic attacks.

“Everyone in leadership in the country has a responsibility to confront this ugliness firmly and forcefully,” McCarthy said in his prerecorded comments at the rally.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the recent reports of antisemitic violence in his home state and around the country are “vile, reprehensible and counter to everything America stands for.”

“Combating antisemitism is not a partisan issue,” said Schumer. “It should be combated whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.”

“Everyone in leadership in the country has a responsibility to confront this ugliness firmly and forcefully,” 

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