Hateful Threats Against a Jewish Blogger
By: Anna North, New York Times
Marc Yellin had gotten some political criticism during his six years of blogging about Jewish life in Albuquerque, but nothing like the messages he received last month.
The 66-year-old retired technical writer checked his email on the morning of Jan. 13, to find that someone had used the contact form on his website to submit two threatening messages containing anti-Semitic slurs.
“If you try to get the US involved in another war for Israel there are thousands of sleepers in the US who will shoot up your synagogues,” one of the messages said.
In the contact form, the sender had entered the name William Pierce, the founder of a white nationalist organization who died in 2002.
Mr. Yellin was somewhat afraid when he read the messages, but mostly disgusted and disappointed. He wondered, “Have we come to this?”
After he recovered from the initial shock, Mr. Yellin contacted the Anti-Defamation League, which reported the threat to the F.B.I. and the Albuquerque police. Authorities are investigating the incident.
Mr. Yellin was not the only one in Albuquerque to receive an anti-Semitic threat in January. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque was one of dozens of Jewish community facilities around the country to receive bomb threats last month. The facility was evacuated and police confirmed there was no bomb. The F.B.I. is investigating the bomb threats.
Anti-Semitic threats are unusual in Albuquerque, according to Suki Halevi, the New Mexico regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “We’ve been hearing about it and reading about it happening in other places,” she says, “and now these incidents have reached our community.”
The A.D.L. is concerned about an increase in reported hate crimes and online harassment since the start of the presidential campaign. In New Mexico, the group has been working with Muslim and immigrants’ rights groups to respond to and prepare for incidents of hate. The A.D.L. also offers training and online resources to help Jewish communities recognize suspicious activity and keep facilities safe.
“One of the goals of cyberharassment and threats of violence is to disrupt a community and cause fear,” says Ms. Halevi. “When the community is prepared, it helps to stop that from happening.”
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For Mr. Yellin, one way to fight hate is to talk about it. A few weeks after he got the threatening messages, he wrote about them on his blog: “This blatant, open anti-Semitism must not be allowed to become the new normal.”
He encourages others who have been threatened to make the incidents public if they feel safe doing so. “Nothing is going to change if people don’t know,” he says.
Here are some reports of hate crimes and harassment that have drawn public attention in recent days.
- On Jan. 30, members of a family in Orlando, Fla., discovered racist notes including swastikas on the windshields of three of their cars. One tire on each car was slashed. Family members believe they may have been targeted because one of them is an organizer for Black Lives Matter.
- Anti-Muslim graffiti was discovered at a mosque in Roseville, Calif., on Jan. 31. Earlier in the month, a mosque in nearby Davis, Calif., was also vandalized.
- A swastika was found carved into a bench inside the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill., on Feb. 1. Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.
- Last weekend, a swastika and the word “Trump” were scrawled with chalk on a statue at Rice University in Houston. It was the third incident of vandalism on the campus in a month. Previously, vandals had written “Trump 2016” on a portion of the Berlin wall at the university, and placed white supremacist recruitment posters on campus.
- On Saturday, a window at a synagogue in Chicago, was broken and swastika stickers were placed on the front door. A man was arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with the incident.
- During services at a synagogue in Las Vegas, on Saturday, a swastika was carved into an outside wall.
- On Sunday, a family in Peyton, Colo., discovered that their home had been vandalized with dog feces, eggs and about 50 pieces of paper bearing hate messages and racial slurs. The F.B.I. is investigating the incident as a hate crime.