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NYPD: Anti-Jewish crimes increased by 22 percent in past year

Police say 159 of the 309 hate crimes reported in New York City so far in 2018 have been directed at Jewish targets compared to 130 over the same period in 2017.

Anti-Jewish crimes reported in New York City rose by 22 percent in the past year, the NYPD said Wednesday at the lower Manhattan museum dedicated to memorializing the Holocaust.

As of Sunday, there were 29 more reported crimes directed at Jewish targets in 2018 than the same period in 2017, including assault and vandalism — a total of 159 so far compared to 130 last year — according to NYPD statistics released at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City. More than half of the 309 hate crimes reported so far this year in New York City — a category that tracks people reportedly targeted because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other traits — were perpetrated against Jews, according to the NYPD.

“The increased reports of swastikas and other criminal mischief here in the five boroughs absolutely concerns us, and none of it — none of it — will ever be tolerated in New York City,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference.

In separate incidents over the past several weeks, vandals drew slurs on homes and Jewish institutions, knocked a black hat off a Hasidic man, and hurled a metal pole through the glass window of a Brooklyn synagogue as the congregation observed the sabbath.

The number of anti-Jewish crimes in New York City has gone up in the past five years. In 2017, there were 150 anti-Jewish crimes reported, 136 in 2016, 126 in 2015, 122 in 2014, and 123 in 2013, according to NYPD Asst. Commissioner Devora Kaye.

Release of the statistics comes amid the backdrop of the Oct. 27 Pittsburgh synagogue attack allegedly committed by a man who espoused anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs. The man burst into a sabbath service and killed 11 worshippers, authorities said. O’Neill, speaking Wednesday, said the shooter was "an anti-Semite fueled by unadulterated hate.”

"He's not just a nut," O’Neill said.

New York City — with 1 million Jews — has the world's largest Jewish population outside of Israel.

The head of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, Mark Molinari, told The New York Times last month that during the previous 22 months, no one caught or identified as a perpetrator of an anti-Jewish hate crime in New York City has been connected to a far right-wing group. And soon after the election of President Donald Trump, the perpetrator of a monthslong campaign of bomb threats against Jewish-affiliated institutions across America turned out to have been primarily a troubled Jewish teenager in Israel, an Israeli police spokesman said at the time.

Since the 2016 election, anti-Semitic crimes have not leveled off as they had after past temporary increases usually lasting just months, said Melanie Robbins of the Anti-Defamation League. Even so, Robbins said, the perpetrator’s politics — right, left, or some other ideology — are difficult to pin down. Robbins said she’s seen attacks worldwide from across the ideological spectrum, including by Nazi sympathizers and anti-Zionists who have grown violent, though she couldn’t immediately break down which type of motivation was most common in New York City.

"There are so many swastikas across New York City that we can barely keep up with them,” said Robbins, deputy director of the league's New York and New Jersey region. 

The year-to-date statistics released Wednesday also show that reported anti-Muslim crimes decreased by half between 2018 and 2017 — to 16 from 32. Reported anti-black crimes increased by 23 percent, to 37 from 30, while crimes targeting whites increased by 88 percent, to 15 from 8. The number of crimes targeting Hispanics — six both years — and Asians — four in 2018 compared to five in 2017 — remained essentially the same.

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