Officials: ISIS, Gaza news spawns hate crimes in New York
Hate crimes against Jews and Muslims in New York City have jumped since July, when the conflict in the Gaza Strip and assaults by ISIS dominated the news, and are expected to rise further as America increasingly turns its attention to the Middle East, according to city and state officials.
Speaking yesterday at New York Police Department headquarters at a press conference on security measures for the upcoming Jewish holidays, deputy chief Michael Osgood of the department's hate crimes task force said that there have been 224 hate crimes committed in the city this year, compared to 192 during the same period last year. It's an increase of 17 percent.
He said that there were 89 reported anti-Semitic crimes, compared to 64 during the same time last year, and 17 anti-Muslim crimes, compared to seven last year. Prior to July 1, there were only three anti-Muslim hate crimes.
(The increase in hate crimes was first reported by the Post when an NYPD official testified at a City Council hearing earlier this month.)
“The root cause of the anti-Semitic increase and anti-Muslim increase” in hate crimes, according to Osgood, is the coverage of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and, later, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“On July first, the Gaza Strip becomes a major news story and stays consistent in the media through July and August, every single day, every single morning, front page of the New York Times, front page of the Wall Street Journal,” he said.
Around this time, “the group ISIS becomes a major news story and they stay consistent in the news media, [and] that creates what I call an emotional surge.”
Since that time, there has been an average of 18 anti-Semitic cases a month.
“A person who would normally not offend, now offends," Osgood said, describing the effect of the news. "He’s moved by the emotions.”
Also, he said, “A person who normally does not report, now reports. Those two actions explain the increase."
Later, Jerome Hauer, commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security, said ISIS and al-Qaeda are “competing” to see who can inflict the most damage on their enemies, including America.
“I don’t think at this point in time the greatest threat is from ISIS," he said. "I think ISIS will become a greater threat as time goes on.”
He said his main concern wasn’t an “organized” attack, but rather, a “lone wolf” attack perpetrated by a small number of individuals.
Hauer also warned that with “the evolution of ISIS and with the evolution of al-Qaeda into this more formidable group, the anti-Semitism is rising at [rates] that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. And I think it’s going to continue to grow.”
“The more that happens in the mid-East, the more that the U.S. commits to try and go after ISIS, the greater the threat will grow here," he said. "And the more people will blame America but also the Jewish community."
"As time goes on, [threats] to both the Jewish community and the Muslim community are going to be more organized," he said. "I think they’re going to be more targeted.”
Hauer advised vigilance, and communication with the police.
“You have to watch out for what’s going on in the community," he said. "But other than God, your closest contact, your precinct commander has to be next.”