Beyond the Numbers: Understanding the Causes and Impact of Antisemitism in New York City

By Lev Feldsher

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray join thousands of participants in the March Against Anti-Semitism on the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday, January 5, 2020.Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
There’s no way to ignore it: Online, across the globe, in our city, and unfortunately, even in our own community, antisemitism is spiking. This form of hatred isn’t new, and without a strong response, it will persist.
In New York City alone, antisemitic crimes more than doubled in since 2021. Data from the NYPD confirms that of 607 reported hate crimes last year, 261 of them were antisemitic– a number of attacks over three times larger than faced by any other group of people in the city. While the number of all total hate crimes is growing year by year, antisemitic behavior is increasing at an alarmingly accelerated rate.
Anti-semitic propaganda presented on social media, spread through pop-culture as well as through political rhetoric have been large contributing factors to this startling increase.
With the help of platforms like Instagram and Twitter, notable figures such as rapper Kanye West and basketball player Kyrie Irving have been able to spread their antisemitic messages among millions, ‘influencing’ followers to inflict hate and furthering this radical dialogue.
West took his extreme antisemitic views to Instagram back in October, stating “when I wake up I’m going death con three On JEWISH PEOPLE ''. His account currently has over eighteen million followers, three million more people than the global Jewish population, and over double the Jewish population in the United States.
Though antisemitism has been common for thousands of years, a resurgence of these ideas particularly amongst the younger generation, has been concerning for many, particularly Jewish people.
“The youth is so deeply entertained by social media and social media influencers, [which] has had a huge impact on their outlook of the Jewish community”, says one Léman sophomore. “I think that there are a lot of reasonable people in this world, but some are so caught up that they let other people's thoughts control them.”
Unfortunately, the rise of this hateful behavior has been reflected through some incidents in the school setting. In early April, an antisemitic hate-crime occurred in a Léman upper-school bathroom, when swastikas were painted in a bathroom stall.
Incidents like these provoke many emotions from those all across the Léman community. In a predominantly safe and accepting atmosphere, it’s especially angering and discomforting when a hate-crime occurs, regardless of the intention by the perpetrator(s).
The rise of antisemitic behavior in both our school and our city must be a wake-up call to educate and grow as a community. Many groups, such as Léman’s Jewish Student Union, have come together to use this incident as a gateway into a discussion on the critical issue of antisemitism. Acknowledging the sources of this hateful behavior and the measures that can be put in place will (hopefully) not only curtail these dangerous expressions, but can better educate and preclude the thoughts that provoke them in the first place.
Many efforts are being made to stop this surge of animosity against the Jewish communities.
“While we continue our efforts to combat anti-Semitism, we are making progress in the fight against hate,” reads a comment made by the Mayor’s office to The Bullhorn. “This year to date, hate crimes in New York City are down by more than 40 percent compared to last year.”
On May 8th, Michael Brovner, the chief of the Queens County District Attorney's Hate Crimes Bureau–who is also a current Léman parent– spoke on hate crimes in an extensive 80 minute presentation. During the lecture, Brovner addressed the concerning rise of hate-crimes, and explained what New York prosecutors are doing to combat them.
Additionally, a group of representatives from various Léman affinity groups spoke at a thought-provoking assembly earlier in April to address not exclusively anti-semitism, but various acts of hate in the Léman community.
While the school is taking certain approaches to address these issues, many Léman families are seeking immediate action. A group of parents of Jewish students at Léman have formed the ‘Léman Families of Jewish Descent’ group, aimed to amplify the voice of parents in the Jewish community.
Antisemitism is a growing concern everywhere, but change starts at an individual level. A vital part of moving forward in the fight against hate is to acknowledge the faults in our own communities. This isn’t an easy battle, but it is a crucial one, and by rejecting stigmas and hateful behavior online and by our peers, change can be made.