Anti-Jewish violence has exploded in Western countries during the recent conflict in Gaza. In different cities, pro-Palestinian gangs openly roamed the streets in search of Jewish victims. While Antisemitic hatred is not new, this ominous wave poses a new type of threat to the safety of Jews in the US, Canada, Britain and elsewhere.
Jewish communities have been the target of violent attacks for long years. The most murderous assaults were usually perpetrated by far rightists or radical Muslims acting alone, at times with a small circle of immediate supporters. These attacks were generally condemned widely. However, the latest anti-Jewish onslaught is different.
The recent attacks have been carried out systematically by “militia-like” pro-Palestinian groups, analyst Seth Frantzman observed in a detailed report. These gangs dress and act like militant factions in Middle Eastern countries, he wrote, with some incidents reminiscent of ISIS behavior in Iraq.
The violent gangs had little interest in protesting, instead hunting for Jews and assaulting them. Moreover, unlike old-style attackers, these assailants did not try to operate in the shadows. More often, they openly announced their presence and intentions, in some cases using megaphones and hanging out of car windows.
This surge of violence against Jews does not appear to be random or spontaneous, Frantzman noted in his piece. The attacks seemed coordinated, and assailants prepared in advance by identifying areas with sizeable Jewish populations, he wrote.
Moreover, regardless of their pro-Palestinian sentiments, the violence had little direct connection to Israel, Frantzman said. Instead, the aim was to cleanse city streets of Jews, especially ones who openly identify as such.
Climate of hatred
Alarmingly, the multiple attacks received the indirect support of politicians as well as public endorsements on social media. Members of mainstream parties in both the US and Britain echoed the messages of the most extreme pro-Palestinian crowds, often resorting to what sounded like Hamas talking points.
While some of these officials condemned Antisemitism, the ideas they promoted were eerily similar to the views voiced in the most rabid anti-Jewish rallies and forums. Moreover, many users on social networks justified the violence by claiming that this was an understandable or proper response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Overall, the new wave of Antisemitic brutality is a cause for grave concern for Jews, who already faced growing hatred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The militia-style gangs and their supporters will not be going away, even when events in Israel cool down. Jewish communities will likely be terrorized in ways and intensity not seen before.
The newly emergent threat on Jews requires Western governments to come up with new policies and protections. However, it remains to be seen whether there is sufficient political will and resolve to do this.
In parallel, Jews in the West will have to boost their own defenses and devise new strategies for dealing with an escalating threat environment. Even if the violence subsides in the short term, subsequent events in Israel or elsewhere will spark a renewed eruption.
In Israel, officials will be monitoring the situation closely and weighing potential steps to help ensure the safety of Jews worldwide. Meanwhile, the Jewish State will become a desirable immigration destination for more Western Jews facing a grim and uncertain future.