FBI Director: Jewish Community Under Threat ‘From All Sides’
“From our perspective, we see the Jewish community getting it from all sides,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday in a hearing on threats to the homeland. “Not only have they long been a target of foreign terrorist organizations…but then, in addition to that, they’re of course the target of domestic violent extremists.”
Speaking of antisemitic extremism in response to a question from Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Wray noted that 63% of all religiously motivated violent extremism incidents in the United States were motivated by antisemitism, against a Jewish population that totals only 2.4% of the American public.
Both Director Wray and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who was also testifying at the hearing, said they would support a national strategy to combat antisemitism.
Wray added that while the statistics on rising antisemitic incidents are “stark,” the increases are partly the result of improved reporting, even as under-reporting remains a problem. “Frankly, the Jewish community has been ahead of other communities that are victims in reporting historically. So we have been trying to preach the importance of reporting and we have seen reporting coming up,” he said.
In 2020, the most recent year in which data is publicly available, the FBI recorded 676 religious bias crimes targeting Jews, accounting for 55% of all religious bias crimes. The total number of reported hate crimes that year increased by 9% from 2019, making 2020 the worst year for bias incidents since 2008. The Anti-Defamation League’s Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2021, published in March, recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States in that year, a 34% increase from 2020 and the highest number of such incidents that the ADL has recorded since it began tracking them in 1979.