Raleigh Jewish leader calls for peace, awareness as antisemitic incidents rise worldwide

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Preliminary information from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows an increase in online and real-world antisemitism in the United States since the recent bout of violence between Israel and Hamas.

ADL documented an increase in messages on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram with praise for Adolph Hitler. Twitter specifically saw more than 17,000 tweets that contained a variation of the phrase "Hitler was right" between May 7 and May 14.

"As the violence between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, we are witnessing a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate right here at home," said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a written statement. "We are tracking acts of harassment, vandalism and violence as well as a torrent of online abuse. It's happening around the world- from London to Los Angeles, from France to Florida, in big cities like New York and in small towns, and across every social media platform."

The online verbal abuse is not the only form of hate being noted. There are several documented cases of physical, in-person harassment as well--according to the ADL, the organization received 193 reports of possible antisemitic incidents in the week after fighting broke out between Israel and Gaza, compared to 62 in the week before -- a more than 200% increase.

Like in New York when a 29-year-old Jewish man was attacked in a gang assault that's now being investigated as a hate crime.
Then in Florida, a New Jersey family was shouted at and had garbage thrown at them.

In California, a group of pro-Palestinian protesters were caught on camera attacking diners outside a restaurant.

In the UK, the Community Security Trust, which supports British Jews and protects victims of antisemitism, reported a more than 500% increase in antisemtic incidents in the UK between May 8 and May 18 compared to the previous 11 days.

In North Carolina, Jewish community leaders recognized the fear that many in the community are feeling.

RELATED: North Carolinians reporting more hate crimes than ever before, according to FBI data

"We do know that there has been an increase in incidents in the recent period and this of course is concerning to us," said Raleigh Jewish Community Relations Council Chair Judah Segal.

Segal acknowledged that many non-Jews in the Raleigh community do fight against antisemitism, but he added that all need to be vigilant.

RELATED: Nazi flag displayed on tree in Wake County causes outrage

"We have to be very careful in this country," Segal said. "Once we start saying we're against a people, once we start saying we don't like what they do, they are bad people, once we start generalizing in that way -- whether it's for Jews, whether it's for Asians, whether it's for Black Americans, for Hispanics -- once we start saying a whole group is evil because we don't like something about them or we don't understand them, we are walking down a path of destruction, not just for those others but ourselves."

To fellow Jews -- he noted the fear for their safety but assured them that steps are being taken to make sure that Jewish institutions in the area, such as synagogues and Jewish Community Centers, are being kept safe.

And as Thursday's ceasefire went into effect, Segal issued a request for all people to continue to push for peace on both sides.

"We must encourage our friends and family and the governments to negotiate with one another to bring about a lasting peace in the area. That is possible, it will come about one day, hopefully in my lifetime, so that Palestinian people and Muslims and Jews and people of so many different backgrounds can live together in peace in Israel and in surrounding countries," Segal said. "That is my wish and the wish of the Jewish people."
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.