Deadly attack at San Diego-area synagogue underscores rise in anti-Jewish hate
The deadly shooting attack at a synagogue in Poway on Saturday underscores concerns about rising incidents of anti-Jewish hate across the nation.
Authorities have not provided many details about the alleged shooter. But the mayor of Poway said the attack, which killed one person and left three others wounded, appears to be motivated by hate.
“I understand that this was someone with hate in their heart, hate for the Jewish community,” he said of the attacker.
President Trump added: “At this moment it looks like a hate crime. But my deepest sympathies to all of those affected. And we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
The incident comes six months after a man with a history of posting anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant social media messages opened fire at a temple in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding six more.
National Jewish groups, many whose leaders heard about the attack hours after it happened because they were observing the Sabbath and last day of Passover, were mourning.
“This shooting is a reminder of the enduring virulence of anti-Semitism,” said the president and chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, in a statement. “It must serve as a call to action for us as a society to deal once and for all with this hate. People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship. From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say ‘enough is enough.’ Our leaders need to stand united against hate and address it both on social media and in our communities.”
Michael Masters, CEO of the Secure Community Network, a group that offers training and resources to synagogues on security, said his group was working with local and federal officials to help the Poway community.
“We remind synagogues and Jewish facilities everywhere that we must take steps to prevent and protect against attacks.... Today’s shooting is a sad reminder that the need has not gone away,” he said in a statement.
Studies have shown the number of anti-Semitic incidents and crimes has been rising rapidly after years of decline.
• The Anti-Defamation League has tracked anti-Semitic incidents since 1979, drawing on reports from victims, police and news publications. The worst year was 1994, with 2,066 incidents. By 2013, the total had fallen to 751. It has been rising ever since, with the biggest all-time annual jump coming in 2017, when the tally climbed 57% to 1,986. The majority of those incidents were harassment, which rose 41% to 1,015 incidents, including 163 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and synagogues. Vandalism rose 86% to 952 cases. The number of physical assaults actually fell 47% — from 36 to 19.
• Los Angeles recorded its highest level of reports of hate crimes in a decade, with a nearly 13% increase in 2018 over the year before. Last year, L.A. tallied 289 hate crimes, compared with 256 in 2017, according to Los Angeles police statistics gathered by researchers at Cal State San Bernardino. Members of the LGBTQ community, African Americans and those of Jewish faith were the most frequently targeted, according to the newly released report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
• An FBI report released in November 2018 detailing hate crimes across more than 3,000 police agencies showed a more than 17% uptick in 2017, fueled by increases in attacks against religious and racial minorities. The count documented 7,175 hate crimes in 2017. The tally was 1,054 higher than the year before. It included a 37% increase in anti-Jewish crimes, a 24% increase in attacks on Latinos and a nearly 16% rise in crimes against African Americans.
Los Angeles was the scene of a notorious anti-Jewish hate incident. In 1999, a self-professed white supremacist walked into the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills armed with a semiautomatic weapon and began shooting. Five people were hurt.
The Poway shooting has other law enforcement agencies taking measures.
“We’re closely monitoring the synagogue shooting in Poway and communicating with our local, state & federal partners. At this time there’s no nexus to Los Angeles, but in an abundance of caution, we will conduct high visibility patrols around synagogues & other houses of worship,” the Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter.
Times staff writers Melissa Etehad and Jaweed Kaleem contributed to this report.
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