In recent weeks, three Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated and more than 100 Jewish Community Centers have been targeted with bomb threats. The rash of anti-Semitic incidents have sent shivers through the Jewish community, with religious leaders and experts on hate crimes describing the string of offenses as the biggest surge in anti-Semitism since World War II.
But there's a silver lining. After each of these recent acts, Muslims — whose relationship with Jews is complicated, in part, by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — have publicly and loudly proclaimed their support for the Jewish community. It may be the most public display of solidarity between people of Muslim and Jewish faiths in recent American history. Consider this:
- Two Muslims — Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York and Tarek El-Messidi of Celebrate Mercy — started an online campaign to repair a Jewish cemetery damaged in Missouri. They hoped for $20,000, but have now raised more than $150,000. The extra funds will help another cemetery that was damaged in Philadelphia.
- The Council on American-Islamic Relations has released several statements condemning the anti-Semitic attacks and an official of the group recently penned a joint editorial with a rabbi that was published in a Sacramento newspaper.
- Muslim men, including U.S. military veterans, have offered to guard Jewish Community Centers.
- Muslims have been visiting synagogues. In Chicago, a Muslim woman spoke at a Shabbat dinner. And after someone shot a bullet through the window of a Hebrew School at a synagogue in Indiana, Muslims planned to attend Friday night services there.
- Muslim leaders in the Twin Cities took out an advertisement in a newspaper showing their support after a bomb threat targeted a local Jewish Community Center.
- Jews have been supporting Muslims, too. When a Texas mosque burned in a fire, Jews at the local synagogue gave the Muslims a key so they could use the Jewish sanctuary for prayers. And after a Florida mosque was damaged in a recent arson attempt, Muslim leader Adeel Karim raised money online and found that many of the donors gave in multiples of $18 (representing the Jewish symbol for chai, meaning "life.") It would later occur to him that many of the donors had names like Cohen, Goldstein and Rubin.
There is no reliable data on bias crimes in the United States, so this newsroom is attempting to keep a record. WNYC is a participant in Documenting Hate, a journalistic cooperative with ProPublica. You can help us collect data for this project by submitting an incident here.