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Antisemitism Swells in the West
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Antisemitism Swells in the West

Violence against Jews has increased since the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel.

Happy Monday! Yesterday marked exactly one year until the 2024 election, but we all pushed our clocks back an hour in an effort to stave it off a little bit longer. 

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Israeli military appeared to complete its encircling of Gaza City on Sunday, effectively splitting the Gaza Strip in two. “From today there is northern Gaza and southern Gaza,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the military, said yesterday. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced three-hour time windows on Saturday for civilians to leave the northern part of Gaza and head South along the main highway, but Hamas attacks on Israeli troops disrupted the evacuation corridor, according to the IDF. A phone and internet blackout was initiated again on Sunday evening—the third blackout since the conflict began. 
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the leaders of Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates over the past several days in a whirlwind diplomatic push to prevent conflict in the region from escalating as a result of the Israel-Hamas war. “It was very important to send a very clear message to anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region,” Blinken said. “Don’t do it.” Blinken also met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Sunday and discussed the potential for the PA to play a role in Gaza’s post-Hamas governance. CIA director Bill Burns landed in Israel yesterday and is expected to also meet with regional leaders this week. 
  • Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah, delivered a major speech on Friday, threatening Hezbollah’s potential involvement in the Israel-Hamas war. “What the Israelis do to Lebanon will also determine how we will act,” he said. “All options are on the table on the Lebanese front.” But the leader denied having advanced knowledge of Hamas’ October 7 attacks, and stopped short of initiating a broader conflict or declaring war on Israel, despite previous threats to do so in the event of an Israeli ground operation in Gaza. “For those who say that Hezbollah should start a war in the entire region, I say wait,” Nasrallah said. “These are the beginnings.” Missile and rocket fire from the Iranian-backed group continues to hit northern Israel, reportedly killing a civilian on Sunday and raising the specter of inadvertent escalation. 
  • Russia announced on Sunday that it had successfully tested a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a new nuclear submarine, Imperator Alexander III. The missile is designed to carry as many as six nuclear warheads, though the test did not carry such weapons. The announcement came on the heels of President Vladimir Putin’s withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty last week. 
  • A Ukrainian missile strike on Saturday hit a Russian shipyard in Kerch, a city in eastern Crimea, and damaged one ship, according to the Russian military—though the extent of the destruction was not immediately made clear. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said over the weekend that a Russian missile struck a Ukrainian brigade on Friday in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region. The military did not release details of the number of people killed or injured in the attack, but casualties were reportedly between 20 to 30. In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back against the idea that the war has stalled or that Ukraine should engage in peace talks with Russia. “I don’t think this is a stalemate,” he said. “We are not ready to give our freedom to this f—ing terrorist Putin.” 
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that U.S. employers added 150,000 jobs in October—only half the number of jobs gained in September. The unemployment rate increased slightly month-over-month from 3.8 to 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate ticked down slightly from 62.8 percent in September to 62.7 percent. Average hourly earnings—a measure the Federal Reserve is watching closely in its fight against inflation—rose another 0.2 percent month-over-month in October, and 4.1 percent year-over-year.
  • Former President Donald Trump is expected to take the stand today in his New York civil fraud trial. His sons, Eric and Don Jr., both testified in the trial last week, and his daughter Ivanka is expected to testify on Wednesday. The former president’s testimony comes as Justice Arthur Engoron, the judge deciding the case, broadened an existing gag order preventing public comments about the court staff to apply to not only Trump but also his legal team, following a Trump lawyer’s complaints about a clerk passing notes to Engoron during the trial. Trump has already been fined $15,000 by the court for violating the gag order on two occasions. 

Antisemitism on the Rise

Protesters gather to hold a pro-Palestinian rally at the Freedom Plaza and condemn the Israeli response to Hamas' attack, in Washington, D.C., United States on November 4, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Protesters gather to hold a pro-Palestinian rally at the Freedom Plaza and condemn the Israeli response to Hamas' attack, in Washington, D.C., United States on November 4, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Over the weekend, thousands of protesters convened in Washington, D.C., to voice their opposition to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza—and call for an intifada against Israel. Such a scene—which played out on President Joe Biden’s front lawn—has become increasingly common in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack.

The October 7 assault has set off a wave of violence and hatred in the United States and Europe over the last several weeks, with antisemitic incidents up almost 400 percent from this time last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and Europe is once again on the rise.

The ADL recorded more than 300 antisemitic incidents—including harassment, vandalism, assault, and anti-Israel rallies and demonstrations—in the U.S between October 7 and October 23, “190 of which were directly linked to the war in Israel and Gaza,” the group said. Most of those incidents have been concentrated in the Northeast, where there are large populations of American Jews, but California has also been a hotspot for such activity. 

Those numbers mark an uptick from an already-high baseline of antisemitic behavior in the U.S. The ADL—which tracks antisemitic incidents using submissions it verifies from citizens—reported a 36 percent year-over-year increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022. “What we’re seeing now is just not spontaneous,” Oren Segal, vice president of ADL’s Center on Extremism, told TMD. “It’s not like somebody woke up on October 7, saw the brutality in southern Israel, and then decided to be an antisemite or to celebrate Hamas’ activity. That’s something that has been festering—and been part of what we’ve been seeing on and off college campuses, for example—for a while.” 

The evidence of this post-10/7 spike seems to be everywhere, including and especially on elite college campuses across the U.S. In one of the starkest examples, a junior at Cornell University in New York was arrested last week for making graphic and violent threats against the school’s Jewish community on an online discussion board. At George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the student group Students for Justice for Palestine projected phrases with antisemitic connotations—“Glory to our martyrs,” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea,” among others—on a building named for Jewish patrons. Last month, video circulated on social media showing Jewish students at Cooper Union, a private college in New York City, standing inside the school’s library as pro-Palestinian protesters banged on the locked door for some 10 minutes. Some Jewish alumni of elite schools are pushing back against what they see as university administrations’ lackluster response to such incidents, threatening to curtail donations and resigning from boards.

But the hallowed halls of Harvard aren’t the only place where antisemitism has become increasingly evident. Jewish schools, synagogues, and community centers have increased their security, and in New York City, there have been countless reports of people pulling down posters bearing the images of Israelis—including small children—kidnapped by Hamas. After the Democratic socialists of America held a “resistance” rally in New York City on October 8 that blamed Israelis for the attack, Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres, who represents a district in the Bronx, took them to task in the New York Post. “The time has come to confront not only the symptoms but the disease,” Torres wrote. “A Democratic Socialist industrial complex that indoctrinates young Americans with an anti-Israel hatred so virulent that it renders them indifferent to the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.” 

In Europe, too, there has been a spike in threats and violence against Jews. Three Jewish schools in North London closed last month over security concerns linked to the international “Day of Rage” called for by a former Hamas leader, and more than 20 Jewish schools in Paris were evacuated last week after someone made an anonymous bomb threat. “The number of antisemitic acts has exploded,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told the press on Sunday, adding there have been nearly 500 arrested in antisemitic incidents since October 7. France has the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the U.S.

In a particularly ominous incident in Berlin, two people launched molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the early hours of October 18—thankfully, the firebombs burned out in front of the building. “Attacks on Jewish institutions and acts of violence on our streets are despicable and cannot be tolerated,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on social media following the attempted arson. “Antisemitism has no place in Germany.” Further east, a lynch mob stormed an airport in Dagestan, Russia, searching for passengers who’d recently arrived on a plane from Tel Aviv, injuring more than 20 people.

Why did the October 7 attack on Jews prompt additional violence and threats against Jews? “People who view Israel as some sort of extension of the Jewish people tend to lash out at Jews for what the state of Israel does,” said Segal. “I think people defaulted to the idea that Israelis somehow deserved it—that it was somehow provoked because of Israeli policies or occupation. And the basic humanity that is required to understand suffering—no matter who does that suffering—I just think was lost, because it was viewed as political.” And as both Charlotte and Kevin have written for the site in recent days, the lines between antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Israel rhetoric are increasingly blurred.

The current tense atmosphere at home and abroad, however, extends well beyond the Jewish community. Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that war in the Middle East had taken the threat of terrorism, already elevated in 2023, “to a whole ‘nother level.” “We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration, the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago,” he said in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West,” including the most specific threat from al-Qaeda in five years, he added. 

In Europe—which saw several high-profile terrorist attacks around 2015 inspired by the Islamic State—the threat of jihadist violence is once again front of mind. Several countries across the continent, including France and Belgium, have raised their national threat level in the face of attacks and close calls. At a public school in Arras, France a few weeks ago, a former student—whose brother is in prison for links to Islamic extremist networks—stabbed a teacher to death and wounded three others in what French President Emmanuel Macron described as an act of “barbaric Islamic terrorism.” Just days later, as students and teachers gathered at the school to remember the slain teacher, someone made a bomb threat against the building, prompting an evacuation. French authorities have closed cultural sites like the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles several times in the last several weeks over bomb threats, and shuttered eight regional airports on a single day last month because of anonymous threats. 

“What I think is particularly troubling is that there will be, if one looks at Hamas as at least as much a jihadist movement as it is a national liberation movement of any kind … terrorism, motivated in large part by religious ideology, rather than national liberation,” Ian Lesser, vice president of the German Marshall Fund, told TMD. “That gives [Hamas] a certain natural connection to other jihadist networks around the world, including some that have been active in Europe. And it’s fairly clear that there is a substantial reservoir of a terrorism with religious motivation in Europe.”

The Israel-Hamas conflict has also inflamed radicals to action against the Muslim community. Last month, a Chicago-area landlord stabbed his tenants, a Palestinian-American woman and her six-year-old son—wounding the mother and killing the child, Wadea Al-Fayoume. “[Her landlord] was angry at her for what was going on in Jerusalem,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald wrote in a court filing.“She responded to him, ‘Let’s pray for peace.’ … [Joseph] Czuba then attacked her with a knife.” The stabbing is being investigated as a federal hate crime. Last week, the Biden administration announced the first national strategy to combat Islamophobia, after announcing the equivalent to counter antisemitism in May of this year.

There’s been a quantitative increase to threats against Jews and other communities, Segal said, but the threats are also qualitatively different. “I have seen in 25 years elements of what I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks,” he told TMD. “I’ve seen spikes in antisemitism. I’ve seen rallies that support terror organizations. I’ve seen threats online that are targeting Jews and others, and how that animates real world activity. I have never seen the combination of all those things at the same time.”

Worth Your Time

  • The hits keep coming for President Joe Biden’s reelection effort. On the same day a New York Times/Siena poll found he’s trailing Donald Trump in nearly every major battleground state, Politico also published a new report casting doubt on the White House’s line vis-a-vis Hunter Biden. “The explicit White House denial of even an informal encounter, reported here for the first time, was not the only time that statements made by Biden and his camp about Hunter Biden’s dealings have been contradicted by others,” Politico’s Ben Schreckinger writes. “Joe Biden and his representatives have repeatedly defended him from criticism related to his relatives, his son in particular, by issuing blanket denials of misconduct and disclaiming contact with their business affairs. But, in recent months, as congressional Republicans have opened an impeachment inquiry and controversies related to Hunter Biden continue to be litigated in the courts and in the public square, a steady trickle of revelations have contradicted the president’s denials. A POLITICO review of recent congressional testimony and exhibits, along with court filings and media reports, casts doubt on several statements made by Biden and his representatives. They include the president’s claim that he has never discussed his relatives’ business dealings with anyone and his suggestion that the appearance of emails apparently belonging to his son was the result of a Russian plot, as well as Biden’s denials that his son made money from China and that his relatives have profited off of the Biden name.”
  • The number of families opting to homeschool their children skyrocketed during the pandemic, but many observers expected the increase to level off once COVID restrictions eased. More than three years later, however, homeschooling remains the fastest-growing form of education, and the Washington Post compiled data from thousands of school districts to map the growth. “In states with comparable enrollment figures, the number of home-schooled students increased 51 percent over the past six school years, far outpacing the 7 percent growth in private school enrollment,” the Post’s analysis found. “Public school enrollment dropped 4 percent in those states over the same period, a decline partly attributable to homeschooling. Homeschooling’s surging popularity crosses every measurable line of politics, geography and demographics. … Despite claims that the homeschooling boom is a result of failing public schools, The Post found no correlation between school district quality, as measured by standardized test scores, and homeschooling growth. In fact, high-scoring districts had some of the biggest spikes in homeschooling early in the pandemic, though by the fall of 2022 increases were similar regardless of school performance.”

Presented Without Comment

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib: “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

Also Presented Without Comment

Axios: [GOP] Rep. [Steve] Scalise Repeatedly Avoids Answering if 2020 Election Was Stolen

Toeing the Company Line

  • Reminder: The Dispatch is looking for an assistant editor to play a key role on our editing team. An obsessive focus on detail and accuracy is crucial, as is the ability to see the big picture and provide substantive and structural edits. Think you—or someone you know—might be a fit? Apply here.
  • In the newsletters: Andrew covered New York Republicans’ attempts to expel Republican Rep. George Santos and protect the House GOP majority, Haley outlined the growing GOP opposition to Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on military promotions, Jonah argued (🔒) Trump backers deceive themselves into thinking Trump will make good on their agenda, Nick pondered (🔒) whether voters understand just how weird Trump has become since leaving office, and Chris argued (🔒) that trying to remove Trump from the ballot via the Fourteenth Amendment is folly. 
  • On the podcasts: Jonah ruminated on why America’s youth is increasingly anti-Israel, and Jamie Weinstein spoke with The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood, who is in Israel, to get a first-hand account of the conflict.
  • On the site over the weekend: Jonathan Marks reviewed Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott’s new book The Canceling of the American Mind, Sean Keeley reviewed Martin Scorsese’s latest film Killers of the Flower Moon, and Thomas Kidd explained the background of American evangelicals’ support for Israel.
  • On the site today: Charlotte details the efficacy of Hamas’ online propaganda war.

Let Us Know

Why do you think, as Segal told TMD, so many people tend to “lash out at Jews for what the state of Israel does?” Does a similar phenomenon play out in any other contexts?

James Scimecca works on editorial partnerships for The Dispatch, and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he served as the director of communications at the Empire Center for Public Policy. When James is not promoting the work of his Dispatch colleagues, he can usually be found running along the Potomac River, cooking up a new recipe, or rooting for a beleaguered New York sports team.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.