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Local Jewish community concerned about huge rise in antisemitic incidents in U.S. in wake of Hamas attack

Communities across the country have seen a spike in anti-semitic attacks since the start of the Isra
Communities across the country have seen a spike in anti-semitic attacks since the start of the Isra 01:59

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — As the Israel-Hamas war continues, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. have soared by 388% compared to the same period last year, according to a new report.

The Anti-Defamation League tracked 312 incidents–including harassment, vandalism and assault–in the three weeks since Oct.7 when Hamas launched the surprise terror attack. That's up from 64 last year during the same time.

"It's not surprising," said Rabbi Alexander Davis at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park. "But when I hear about it here in Minnesota, in St. Louis Park, with words sprawled on sidewalks and people being accosted in stores and high schools—that's where it really hits home."

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He told WCCO that the attacks felt person to his congregation. Inside the synagogue, there is a small room with the faces of many of the hostages pinned to the wall—a place where people can grieve and pray for the victims.

He said those who worship at Beth El have come to him seeking advice in this fraught time as they worry for their safety and the safety of their children. 

Despite the rise in antisemitic incidents, he has two messages for the community: "One be vigilant and the other, celebrate Jewish life. Wear your Judaism on your sleeve. And talk to your neighbors," he said.

The ADL in its report also noted the incidents are not limited to just the United States. And the daily average of violent messages online mentioning Jews has soared by 1,000%.

That shows just how much words matter, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, who noted that Friday marks five years since the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh—the deadliest attack on Jews in the U.S. in the country's history. 

"People have got to name it and address it. It's hugely important. It can't be swept away," he said of antisemitism. 

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The ADL report comes as the Department of Homeland Security and FBI on Wednesday highlighted that the volume and frequency of threats against both the Jewish and Muslim communities have increased since the war began. A Chicago landlord now faces murder and hate crime charges, after he stabbed a six-year-old Palestinian boy who authorities said was targeted for his Muslim faith.

Officials urged Americans to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to law enforcement.

"Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories have long been a source of calls for violence against Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities," the memo said. "This history, coupled with the current widespread sharing of graphic and disturbing content related to this conflict, increases the risk of incitement to violence in the United States."

A study from the University of Chicago and the ADL found that people with very antisemitic views are three times more likely to support violence to achieve political goals than the general population.

"We have to all take great care—all of us—to make sure that we're not escalating the rhetoric, saying incendiary things because it can have consequences," Hunegs said.

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