The last eighteen months witnessed a terrible spike in hate. In Europe, antisemitism filled the streets with riots and shootings in the heart of European capitals. In America, several blacks were killed by police officers which prompted protests and federal investigations into possible police bias. American Muslims protested a growing trend of “Islamophobia” as they feared being targeted due to jihadist terrorism around the world.
Yet the situation for American Jews is rarely discussed, and when it is, it is viewed as generally satisfactory, especially when compared to the rest of the world.
The statistics may surprise you.
Hate Crimes in America
The FBI compiles a list of hate crimes every year. It tracks the nature of the crime, and breaks the attacks into categories by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability and gender identity. The data is compiled from information gathered from over 15,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.
In 2013, 49.3% of hate crimes were racially motivated, while 20.2% and 16.9% were based on sexual-orientation and religion, respectively. Within the racially motivated crimes, 66.5% were targeted against blacks. For sexual orientation hate crimes, 60.9% were against gays, and for religion-based hate crimes, 60.3% were against Jews.
In total, hate crimes seemed to heavily weigh against blacks, and indeed, crimes against blacks made up one-third of all hate crimes in 2013. However, the black population is significantly larger than other minority groups.
When taking into account that Jews make up only 1.8% of the population of the United States, while gays are roughly 3% and blacks are 13.2% of the population, respectively, the relative frequency of attacks against Jews is much more significant.
There was roughly one antisemitic hate crime in the US each year for every 7700 Jews. That compared to an attack against gays for every 10,700 gays and an attack against blacks for every 17,600 African Americans. For Muslims, the rate was one attack per 17,000 Muslims. That means that an average Jew can expect to experience a hate crime at over twice the rate of blacks or Muslims. Jews are the most disproportionately attacked minority in the United States by a significant margin.
Fortunately, hate crimes do not often involve murder. In 2013, 0.1% of the crimes involved murder and 0.3% were for reported rapes. Assault (aggravated and simple), intimidation and attacks on property were the typical forms of hate crimes.
Impact on Obama’s World View
Is it possible that the relatively small number of murders that occur in US hate crimes impacts President Obama’s world view? As Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote,
In May 2015, President Obama had an interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg where they discussed ISIS, Iran and Israel. Obama clearly stated
“that the supreme leader [of Iran] is antisemitic ”
but he also stated firmly that the Iranian leader would not risk his country’s security in pursuit of such hatred.
“At the margins, where the costs are low, they [Iran] may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their antisemitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents.”
Has Obama’s view of antisemitism been colored by the experience in the United States? Does he simply acknowledge that antisemitism exists, but that the “costs are low” to both the victim and the abuser? Brett Stephens wrote convincingly that the Iranian leader’s actions are driven by a fanatical zeal which has shown it does not mind incurring very high costs. Stephens concluded:
“Maybe Mr. Obama doesn’t understand the compelling power of ideology.”
I would add to that sentiment, that Obama has shown by his (in)actions in the Ukraine that the United States will not stand by obligations to support an ally. Despite commitments and treaties as outlined in the Budapest Memorandums, the US, United Kingdom and others let Russia invade and annex sections of the Ukraine without any intervention. Does Obama think that the Iranian leader doesn’t read the news?
In the United States, antisemitism remains in full force. It has remained largely “low cost” (to paraphrase Obama) to both victims and perpetrators thus far. Under President Obama’s foreign policy, it would appear that Iranian antisemitism will only become a “high cost” for Israel.
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