Jews are the No. 1 target in America for hate crimes in proportion to the population. The recent hostage crisis at a Texas synagogue should be a red flag to alert Jewish leaders to this alarming truth.
A Jew is far more likely to be a victim of a hate crime than a black person, a Muslim, a Hispanic or an Asian. This fact is not well-known, yet it is critical to understanding the extent of Jew-hatred in America.
The reason why it is overlooked is the FBI’s method of reporting hate crimes. The FBI website lists 2020 hate-crime numbers for various ethnic and racial groups, but it does not provide the number of hate crimes per capita for each group.
Anyone can use simple arithmetic to calculate these numbers based on FBI statistics for 2020, U.S. Census data and Pew Research figures on religious groups in America.
The 2020 FBI statistics show that Jews were victims of 683 hate crimes, compared with blacks (2,371); Asians (274); and Muslims (141). If you want to know which Americans are more or less likely to be attacked, you divide the number of attacks on a group by its population.
Ethnicity Population Hate Crimes Hate Crimes/10,000 Persons
Jews 6,260,000 683 1.09
Blacks 44,153,000 2,371 0.537
Muslims 2,965,000 141 0.475
Asians 23,065,000 274 0.112
Hispanic/ 60,095,000 517 0.086
Non-Hispanic 190,045,000 869 0.0457
A Jewish person is approximately twice as likely to suffer a hate crime than a black person or a Muslim, 10 times more likely than an Asian or a Latino and 20 times more likely than a non-Hispanic white. The hate-crime numbers for Jews would look even worse if we included only that part of the Jewish population that is identifiably Jewish, such as those who attend a synagogue or dress like religious Jews.
Who are the perpetrators? On this crucial question, the FBI’s published statistics are silent. The Texas attacker and many others have been Islamist fanatics. Neo-fascist and Antifa thugs are also active threats. But perhaps the biggest challenge is the normalization of Jew-hatred in the guise of attacks on Israel. It is often said that criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. True, but often the denunciations indulge in classic anti-Semitic tropes or hold Israel to a standard not expected of any other nation.
Of course, every hate crime must be condemned. And it is important to recognize that blacks—more than any other group—have a long and tragic history of persecution that casts a dark shadow on American history.
But for those, Jews included, who don’t believe that Jew-hatred has become an ominous threat in America, a closer look at the hate-crime data may be a wake-up call.
Why haven’t reporters dug into the FBI data to report the underlying truths? Perhaps too many journalists have become ideologues, not truth-seekers, and laziness and incompetence have become common. An investigative treatment of the data revealing the true extent of antisemitism might be an inconvenient truth, disturbing the academic race theory that Jews are actually “privileged whites.”
If journalists missed this story, what can be said of America’s Jewish leadership?
An honest evaluation of the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League and many Jewish Federations and Community Relations Councils would conclude that yes, the safety of Jews is an item on their agenda, but it’s not at the top. The fact that a Jew has a higher risk of becoming a target of a hate crime than any other ethnic group should be a banner headline on each of their websites, and a loud call to Jewish leaders to make combating anti-Semitic hate crimes their highest priority.
Our Jewish leaders have made support for social-justice causes a major priority. Jewish organizations are enthusiastic supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights, and have consistently opposed Islamophobia. With notable exceptions, such support and alliances have failed to produce reciprocal support for Jews and Israel. It is now time to attack the sources of Jew-hatred and use the community’s limited resources to protect Jews first. As the rabbi in Colleyville has demonstrated, being a nice guy is no protection against a violent ideologue blinded by hatred.
George Flesh is an independent writer.