Why the Surge in Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes?

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“It seems like it’s open season on Jews in New York City,”[1] City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch lamented amidst a rash of at least nine anti-Semitic attacks in New York City during the final days of 2019—all of them occurring within less than a week.[2] Six anti-Semitic incidents, five of them assaults, happened in an almost 48-hour span during Hanukkah,” according to the New York Times.[3]Indeed, New York City has been a hotbed of anti-Semitism, having experienced a 96% increase from 2016 to 2017 and a 55% increase from 2017 to 2018.[4] In 2019 anti-Semitism accounted for over half of all hate crimes in New York City.[5]

Global anti-Semitism has been growing for years. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) surveys of 102 countries and territories in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019 found that 26% of the adult population polled harbor anti-Semitic views. This totals 1.09 billion people who are anti-Jewish—35% of whom are unaware of the Holocaust.[6][7] Twenty-four percent of these anti-Semites claim the title “Christian.”[8] Human Rights First, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, and the Anti-Defamation League all report higher levels of anti-Semitism compared to previous years, and the United States of America is no exception.[9]

A coming report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino shows that anti-Semitic hate crimes in our nation’s three largest cities are poised to hit an 18-year peak.[10][11] Throughout America anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise, numbering 1,879 in 2018 compared to 942 in 2015. Particularly troubling is the nature of these crimes. Anti-Semitic assaults in the United States more than doubled in 2018,[12][13] including the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in our nation’s history at the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh, which left 11 dead and six wounded.[14][15]

“It’s not any one particular group, it’s a myriad of people,” observes Evan Bernstein, the New York/New Jersey regional director at the ADL, “Anti-Semitism is affecting all parts of our society.”[16] Likewise, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared in a press conference, “This is a national phenomenon that we are seeing and it’s frightening and it’s disturbing. If anyone thinks that something poisonous is not going on in this country, they’re in denial.”[17]

What is the source of this poison Governor Cuomo referenced? Democratic presidential candidates have been quick to identify President Trump as the source of this poison, blaming his rhetoric for emboldening white supremacists and condoning hateful conduct. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “An atmosphere of hate has been developing in this country over the last few years. A lot of it is emanating from Washington and it’s having an effect on all of us.”[18] Likewise, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) declared, “Donald Trump has tried to stir up hate and division in our country. You can never draw the line straight from one place to another. But he has embraced hatred and unkindness among our people in ways that put Americans at risk.”[19]

Others blame political agendas and poor policies. Noah Phillips writes in the Daily Wire:

New York City’s criminal and bail reform practices have demonstrably returned virulent anti-Semites to the street without bail set. Thirty-year-old Tiffany Harris, responsible for the aggravated assault of three Jewish individuals last week, was released from police custody without bail following the first assault, only to commit the same heinous act twice more — a day later. She was again released with no bail. A policy enacted for the new year disqualifies swaths of crimes from being eligible for bail altogether in New York state. The laundry list of now-disqualified crimes includes third-degree assault, forms of aggravated assault, terrorist threats, arson in the third- and fourth-degrees, and even second-degree manslaughter. These crimes are often the direct criminal behaviors that have been taking place against Jews.[20]


While these may be contributing factors, the true source of this anti-Semitic poison is spiritual, not political. It is the manifestation of something the Apostle John calls the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3). This spirit is not confined to only one individual, as we see in 1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” The spirit of antichrist is an attitude which is established in the spiritual realm and manifested in the physical realm. Moreover, it is an attitude that will increase as we near the return of Jesus Christ. More importantly, the spirit of antichrist is the agenda and goal of our adversary, finding its origin in none other than Satan himself. This is apparent when we read in Revelation 13:4 that it is he who will empower the individual who is so characterized by this spirit that he bears its namesake.[21]

One of the most consistent aspects of Satan’s agenda has been the attempted destruction of the Jews. Every world power under his control has sought the destruction of the Hebrews. In Egypt Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all newborn Hebrew male children. The Assyrian monarchs Tiglath-Pileser III and Shalmaneser V took captive the northern kingdom of Israel in 734 B.C. Kings Sargon II and Sennacherib finished the demise of Israel’s northern 10 tribes in 724 B.C. Although Sennacherib attacked Israel’s southern kingdom of Judah and besieged Jerusalem, it was the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who conquered Jerusalem and later destroyed the city in 586 B.C. Following the restoration of Israel, King Ahasuerus of Media-Persia nearly annihilated every Jew according to a plot by the royal official Haman. In Greece, Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to destroy the Jews. And among the Romans, King Herod ordered the death of all Hebrew baby boys at the birth of Jesus Christ, and Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

According to Biblical prophecy the end times global kingdom ruled by an individual known as Antichrist will belong to this heritage. It is depicted in Revelation 17:9–11 as a city built upon seven hills. Pastor Warren Wiersbe writes in the Bible Exposition Commentary, “The seven mountains can be interpreted geographically as the seven hills of Rome, but they may also be interpreted historically as seven kingdoms. … The five past kingdoms would be Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The present kingdom would be Rome, and the future kingdom would be that of ‘the beast’ [Antichrist].” As such, it is not surprising to find in Daniel 11:29–45 that Antichrist will be filled with hatred toward Israel. He will mistreat the Jews and eventually invade their land.

Prophecies regarding the end times can be confusing and controversial, but it appears as though a defining aspect of the final global kingdom before the return of Christ will be a spirit of antichrist that hates the Jewish people and seeks their destruction. With this in mind, it is deeply troubling that this spirit is growing within America. Our nation’s three largest cities have now become incubators for this anti-Semitic spirit of antichrist.

The solution to the rise of anti-Semitism within our country does not rest in political policies, reformed rhetoric, or a change in the presidency. The solution requires that we as a people re-align ourselves with God’s agenda and his heart for the Jewish people, and it requires respecting the Jewish people for the role they have played in God’s redemptive story. In short, the rising epidemic of anti-Semitism within America can only be successfully countered with the transformative power of the gospel. As such, rather than looking to law enforcement and politicians, this is primarily a matter for God’s people to address.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Byfield, Erica and Myles Miller. “‘Open Season on Jews’: Outrage Over Spike in NYC Hate Attacks.” News. NBC 4 New York, December 27, 2019. Last updated December 28, 2019, 8:34 p.m. https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/open-season-on-jews-reports-of-anti-semitic-attacks-during-hanukkah-cause-for-concern/2250584/.

2. “NYPD Investigating 9th Anti-Semitic Attack Reported This Week.” CBS 2 New York, December 28, 2019, 10:00 p.m. https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2019/12/28/rash-of-anti-semitic-attacks-new-york-city/.

3. Hassan, Adeel. “‘A Different Era’: Anti-Semitic Crimes, and Efforts to Track Them, Climb.” US. New York Times, January 3, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/us/anti-semitism-hate-crimes.html.

4. Phillips, Noah. “PHILLIPS: A Year of Rampant Anti-Semitism in New York City.” Daily Wire, January 5, 2020. https://www.dailywire.com/news/phillips-a-year-of-rampant-anti-semitism-in-new-york-city.

5. Phillips.

6. “Anti-Semitism Globally.” Anti-Defamation League, n.d. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/anti-semitism/anti-semitism-globally.

7. “ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism.”

8. “ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism.”

9. “On the Rise: Anti-Semitism in Europe.” Anti-Defamation League, n.d. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://www.adl.org/education/educator-resources/lesson-plans/on-the-rise-anti-semitism-in-europe.

10. Hassan, “‘A Different Era’: Anti-Semitic Crimes, and Efforts to Track Them, Climb.”

11. Levin, Brian, John Reitzel, Lisa Nakashima, Kevin Grisham, James Nolan and William Lambdin. “Report to the Nation: Multi-Decade Data.” Draft. Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, n.d. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://csbs.csusb.edu/sites/csusb_csbs/files/CSHE%20DRAFT%20Dec%2030.docx.pdf.

12. Kesslen, Ben. “Anti-Semitic Assaults in the U.S. More Than Doubled in 2018, ADL Reports.” US News. NBC News, April 30, 2019, 2:22 p.m, EDT. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anti-semitic-assaults-u-s-more-doubled-2018-adl-reports-n1000246.

13. “Anti-Semitic Incidents Remained at Near-Historic Levels in 2018; Assaults Against Jews More Than Doubled.” Anti-Defamation League, n.d. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/anti-semitic-incidents-remained-at-near-historic-levels-in-2018-assaults.

14. Adkins, Laura. “Anti-Semitism in the U.S. Isn’t Usually Violent. What If That’s Changing?” Perspective. Washington Post, December 19, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/19/anti-semitism-us-isnt-usually-violent-why-is-that-starting-change/.

15. “11 Dead, 6 Injured in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting.” United States. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 27, 2018, 11:16 a.m. https://www.jta.org/2018/10/27/united-states/least-4-reported-dead-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.

16. Dolsten, Josefin. “What Is Causing the Rise in Anti-Semitism in New York?” United States. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 2, 2020, 5:22 p.m. https://www.jta.org/2020/01/02/united-states/what-is-causing-the-rise-in-anti-semitism-in-new-york.

17. Jacobs, Shayna. “Acts of Anti-Semitism Are on the Rise in New York and Elsewhere, Leaving Jewish Community Rattled.” National Security. Washington Post, December 29, 2019, 7:51 p.m., EST. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/acts-of-anti-semitism-are-on-the-rise-in-new-york-and-elsewhere-leaving-jewish-community-rattled/2019/12/29/f8c20578-2a7e-11ea-bcb3-ac6482c4a92f_story.html.

18. Jacobs.

19. Jacobs.

20. Phillips, “PHILLIPS: A Year of Rampant Anti-Semitism in New York City.”

21. Revelation 12:9 clarifies that the dragon is Satan.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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