Joey Borgen, 29, of Lawrence was was beaten and pepper-sprayed...

Joey Borgen, 29, of Lawrence was was beaten and pepper-sprayed in Times Square by several men, the NYPD said.  Credit: Borgen Family

In Brooklyn, a group of people attacked a pair of Jewish teens after demanding that they yell "Free Palestine." In Queens, a driver swerved toward another group of Jewish teens, yelling the same phrase. Last week, a Nassau County man wearing a yarmulke was pepper-sprayed and attacked by a group yelling anti-Semitic slurs in Times Square. Kosher restaurants and synagogues have been vandalized.

The ugly rise in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the region and across the country is terrifying. Jews of all ages are finding themselves once again the target of disturbing acts of hatred, spurred in part by the recent escalation of fighting in Gaza and Israel, and the political lens through which that violence is seen in the United States.

Such anti-Semitic hate and the destructive and violent acts that accompany it aren't new. Earlier this month, a boy was charged with a hate crime after allegedly spray-painting two swastikas on a Port Washington elementary school. Let's not forget the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., and slashings at a Rockland County Hanukkah party.

The latest spike is distinctly dangerous, in its connection to the violence happening abroad, in how quickly the lines between advocacy for one group of people and hatred for another can blur, and in how fear has taken hold.

Regretfully, the targets of hateful activity aren't limited to any one group. Recently, people deluded with hate in our area and beyond have damaged mosques, hung nooses and continued anti-Asian attacks. But at this moment, in part because of the conflict in Israel and Gaza, anti-Semitism seems particularly worrisome.

There is no simple answer to the immediate crisis such hatred has wrought in our region and beyond. As with other forms of racial and religious violence, there's a vexxing intransigence that's hard to combat.

But we must try. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has increased patrols in key spots, and involved the state's hate crimes task force. Elected officials and community leaders can speak out more forcefully and work to reduce tensions.

And education remains key to fighting intolerance, addressing religious, racial and ethnic differences, and understanding the history of hate. It's clear that right now, we are failing our children — and many adults, too. Just look at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's horrific anti-Semitic attempts to compare mask-wearing requirements to the yellow stars Jews wore during the Holocaust. Meanwhile, a bill in the state legislature that calls for an analysis of whether school districts are adequately teaching the Holocaust is roiling Albany, with politics potentially playing a role there. Amid all of that is a fundamental need to address the importance of knowing what our schools are teaching about the Holocaust, hate, and the horrors of religious, racial and ethnic oppression, and to use that to improve those lessons.

Beyond that, we all need to do more to stand up against all anti-Semitism, no matter from whichever side of the political spectrum it emerges.

— The editorial board