There is good news and bad news in the preliminary FBI national statistics on hate crimes in America released this week.
The good news: National hate crimes plummeted 23 percent, to 7,462 in 2002 from a record 9,730 in 2001, according to data collected by the FBI under the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act.
And the number of hate crimes against Jewish individuals and institutions nationally dropped to 931 in 2002 from 1,043 in 2001.
The bad news: The percentage of hate crimes against Jews rather than against other minorities rose to 12.5 percent in 2002 from 10.5 percent in 2001.
This in comparison to 2000, when there were 8,063 hate crimes reported by the FBI, with 1,109 against Jews representing 14 percent of the total.
Hate crimes were defined as crimes motivated by bias against race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability.
Participation in the annual FBI survey by municipal and state law enforcement agencies is strictly voluntary, so there is no way to gauge the full meaning of the numbers until the FBI releases more information next month, said Michael Lieberman, director of the Civil Rights Planning Center for the Anti-Defamation League based in Washington.
Among the new information to be released are the names of the 12,073 law enforcement agencies that participated in the survey, the most in the program in its 12 years.
Nevertheless, some information can be gleaned from the data.
In New York, the number of hate crimes dropped to 693 in 2002 from 712 in 2001. How many were against Jews is unknown, however, because the FBI in this preliminary phase did not break down the crimes in categories by state or municipality.
But nationally, of the 1,426 religion-based crimes, 931 were directed against Jews and Jewish institutions: 65 percent.
Lieberman noted that the number of anti-Islamic crimes nationally plunged 67 percent, to 155 in 2002 from 481 in 2001. In 2000 there were 28 reported anti-Islamic crimes in America.
In addition, national origin and ethnicity crimes dropped from 2,098 in 2001 to 1,102 in 2002. In 2000 there were 911.
"We are pleased that this FBI studMarlins’ Mazel In Front Office
by Eric J. Greenberg
As Commissioner Bud Selig was handing the World Series trophy to Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night, a face familiar to the Five Towns Jewish community popped into view.
Wearing his new black and teal championship cap was Joel Mael, the sanitation commissioner of Lawrence, L.I. Mael is also vice chairman of the Marlins, who stunned the Yankees in six games.
Directly in front of Mael, gesticulating like an excited bar mitzvah boy, was team president David Samson. Next to him was general manager Larry Beinfest.
The scene was one for the books for America’s national pastime: a Jewish baseball commissioner presenting the sport’s most prized trophy to a Jewish baseball owner flanked by his three Jewish team officials.
(Not to mention pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal and right-hander Justin Wayne, who was not on the Marlins’ Series roster.)
Mael, a 46-year-old Orthodox Jew who belongs to the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, told The Jewish Week Tuesday that the historic baseball moment was particularly satisfying for him, a lifelong Yankee hater.
That’s because Mael, born in Montreal, was raised in Brookline, Mass., and grew up a diehard Boston Red Sox fan.
"It made it all the more sweet to beat what has probably been the best franchise in baseball history in their ballpark," confided Mael.
He had spent the Sabbath at a bar mitzvah in Staten Island and rushed over to the Stadium afterward to attend Game 6.
"Most of the people at the bar mitzvah were Yankee fans, including the hosts, and they were all ribbing me the Yankees would win in seven," Mael said. "I’m told they set up a big screen in the smorgasbord room to watch the game and were disappointed at what they saw."
Mael, a 1978 graduate of Yeshiva College who has an MBA from Harvard, said he entered the baseball business via his business association with Loria, a New York art dealer.
When Loria began pursuing his dream of owning a major league team, Mael helped put together the financial proposals. Mael became the Marlins’ vice chairman in February 2002 after working for Loria, then owner of the Montreal Expos, as a financial adviser for three years.
Mael, who divides his time between South Florida and Long Island, where he lives with his wife, Lynn, and four children, Ayelet, Jonathan, Daniella and Aviva, said it was "surreal" being on the national stage as World Series winners.
"I think it was a combination of a lot of mazel and some moves in creating an environment for players to play above their potential," he said.y indicates that reported hate crimes have declined from last year’s record high numbers," said ADL national director Abraham Foxman in a statement. "Still it is impossible to be complacent about a report that identifies almost 7,500 acts of vandalism and violence."
Lieberman said the percentage rise in crimes against Jews was "unwelcome."
Foxman called for Congress to enact legislation allowing federal authorities to "provide the full range of assistance" to local officials prosecuting hate crimes, including giving the feds the power to investigate and prosecute hate crimes "in those circumstance where state and local officials cannot or will not act themselves."
He was referring to a pending bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 966), called the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, which would enable federal authorities to work with local law enforcement in extraordinary cases. New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, both Democrats, are cosponsoring the measure.
The bill has yet to be sponsored in the House, Lieberman said.