NY Attacks Don’t Show That Black People Have an anti-Semitism Problem by Elad Nehorai

People gather at Grand Army Plaza in solidarity with the victims after an assailant stabbed five people attending a party at an Hasidic rabbi's home in Monsey, N.Y., on December 28, 2019,

Concerning what we know and what we don’t know about the recent surge in anti-Semitism in Brooklyn impacting Hasidic Jews, how they seem to have popped up out of nowhere, Elad Nehorai writes at Ha’aretz here:

Because of the intense focus on white nationalism and the alt-right, we have an incredible amount of data available.  We know about specific movements, from Groypers to the Proud Boys. We know about the websites where they congregate, like 4chan and Stormfront. They publish manifestos and video their attacks live. In fact, information seems to be the one thing we have plenty of when it comes to white nationalism, if not solutions. Data is plentiful.

The exact opposite is the case with the horrifying acts in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Monsey. These attackers seem to pop out of nowhere. These acts don’t appear coordinated, even in the vaguely disconnected version of “lone wolf” attacks we see among white nationalists.

Although we have had vague pieces of information come out about the recent attacks, such as the fact that at least one of the Jersey City shooters was linked to the Black Hebrew Israelites, the one element that continues to be spread is that the perpetrators were black.

And this, it seems, is where the conversation often ends. The investigation, at least on a mainstream punditry and social media level, seems to revolve around the question of: “Do black people have an anti-Semitism problem?”

Whether people answer yes or no, the fact that this question is being posed reveals a latent racism that must be addressed, if only to properly address these horrific attacks, if not to also avoid the very easy and dangerous slippery slope into overt racism that endangers both Jewish black people and black non-Jews.

In other words: “We just need more data.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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5 Responses to NY Attacks Don’t Show That Black People Have an anti-Semitism Problem by Elad Nehorai

  1. Aron moishei says:

    Didnt you say in a previous article “you know there is a social problem”?

    • zjb says:

      sure, of course, there’s a social problem, but it’s a problem about which we know very little and it’s important to proceed step-wise

  2. Shimon HAevi says:

    Yes, data must be collected and analyzed. And yes, precautions must be taken. Nevertheless, the community whose members are perpetrators need to take responsible action. They must let the members of their communities no that this activity is wrong; that it is evil and will not be tolerated. Efforts have been taken regarding black on black crime. Now action must be tdd taken re anti Semitic crime.

    • zjb says:

      yes, yes. Everyone agrees that there has to be a lot of community and inter-community work. But BLACK ANTI-SEMITISM (as opposed to “anti-Semitism in the black community”) is too crude a hammer given how leaderless and rudderless this type of anti-Semitic violence seems to be.

      • dmf says:

        this idea that there are communities that are responsible for what people who bear a familial resemblance (says who, based on what, etc ?) to them somehow have a say in and or a responsibility for what such people do is pretty questionable outside of groups organized into some clear commitments of members and something akin to organizational structures.

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