BOSTON, MA – Jews in the US are becoming more concerned for their safety and for good reason. In addition to growing violence, a new way of targeting them is underway.
Creators of The Mapping Project have developed an interactive website that seeks to expose those who support the colonization of Palestine by revealing the names and addresses of close to 500 organizations and individuals in Massachusetts, many who are Jewish.
Rob Leikind, the regional director for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in New England, is listed and he's sounding the alarm, alongside a host of other Jewish advocates and community and regional leaders in the Boston area.
"There's tremendous anxiety in the Jewish community," Leikind told CBN News. "This is a moment where people feel like things have changed."
Ellie Cohanim, the former deputy special envoy on anti-Semitism at the State Department says the map puts Jewish individuals and institutions at risk. "This is coming at a time when there is a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks all across the country," she said.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracks anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault in the US. Last year, it recorded 2,717 incidents, a 34 percent increase from 2020 and the highest number since it began tracking in 1979.
The American Jewish Committee states that one in four American Jews have been the target of anti-Semitism in the last 12 months. Those included physical attacks, verbal harassment and online targeting.
The AJC calls it a severe problem, requiring urgent attention.
Leikind notes that history is repeating itself. "The anti-Semitism which after the Holocaust was kind of an obscenity, today is becoming normalized again. That people who have those ideas, who kept them to themselves now feel increasingly comfortable expressing them," he said.
Jewish advocates like the AJC see the threat coming from both the extreme left and the extreme right. For example, in 2018 far right white supremacist ideology motivated the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter to kill eleven people.
Leikind explains the disturbing line of thought.
"Jews are somehow the engineers behind a vast conspiracy to turn America into mud people. We're race mixing, all of a sudden going to turn this country into a homogenous country where white people will no longer exist. That idea sounds crazy to many of us," he noted. "But it now has a fairly substantial audience."
On the left, there's anti-Zionism which leads to anti-Semitism say Jewish advocates.
"The notion that Israel is the worst place on earth," Leikind explained. "That Israel is the exemplar of all that is bad with the nation state, with nationalism, that Israel is the avatar of modern colonialism."
Cohanim points out a trend in Europe where attacks on Jews increase when there's conflict in Israel. That's now happening in the US, most recently during Israel's conflicts with Gaza.
"We had caravans of Palestinian-flagged cars driving through Jewish neighborhoods, particularly looking for Jews to attack and in fact they did attack Jews, all across this country," she told CBN News.
The FBI is keeping tabs on the Mapping Project. In Boston, a wide array of elected officials and community leaders have denounced it.
In light of that, Leikind is even more focused on building bridges and encouraging conversations about anti-Semitism, hoping people will learn to better tolerate and even appreciate their differences.