On Thursday, October 12, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and National Security Council issued a warning to Israelis abroad to be on extra alert the following day, Friday, October 13, as Hamas called for a global “Day of Rage,” urging violence against Jews.
The call comes on the heels of one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in the history of Israel, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel by land, sea, and air, murdering over 1,200 Jewish civilians and injuring over 2,000. The Israeli government declared a state of war and the army retaliated swiftly and strongly. As of this writing, the war is ongoing.
Apart from being devastated, Jews in the United States are increasingly fearful for their own safety. Anti-Israel and anti-semitic voices have already been heard following the international terror incidents.
In New York City, the city with the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, pro-Hamas protestors took to the streets of Times Square, shouting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A photo was captured of one protestor holding up an image of a swastika on his phone.
In Fresno, CA, Temple Beth Israel’s front glass door was broken with a rock, while the restaurant Noah’s Ark had two broken windows along with handwritten threats against Jewish businesses.
The Biden Administration Unequivocally Supports Israel
Biden was quick to condemn the Hamas terror attacks, stating, “We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel.” He praised America as a country that will not tolerate hate and reported that federal and state law enforcement are working together to deter further threats to the Jewish community.
He also said, “Let me say again – to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t. Don’t.”
On Wednesday following the Hamas terror attacks, Biden and several security advisors held a roundtable discussion with American Jewish leaders, where they discussed the administration’s commitment to preventing antisemitic incidents in the US and expressed solidarity with the worldwide Jewish community.
Ramping Up Security
While President Biden has expressed unequivocal support for Israel, Jewish communities in the US fear that those looking for excuses to perpetrate crimes against Jews will use the war in the Middle East as a motive.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have issued “public safety concern” bulletins to law enforcement agencies around the country, warning them to be on high alert for threats against the Jewish community.
Local and state law enforcement agencies, including those in New York City, LA, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Washington D.C., and more, have ramped up security for synagogues and Jewish schools, increasing the number and visibility of guards and patrolmen.
Community Security Service, a volunteer-led Jewish security organization, reported that nearly 50 synagogues had reached out for assistance following the terror attacks in Israel.
According to the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), antisemitic hate crimes hit an all-time high in the US in March 2023. Jewish leaders are hoping that the crisis in the Middle East won’t spark a surge in the already high numbers.