NYPD reports 43 antisemitic incidents in March, reversing downward trend


(New York Jewish Week) — Antisemitic crimes in New York City spiked in March, reversing a month-by-month decline in the number of anti-Jewish incidents recorded by the NYPD.

There were 43 antisemitic incidents in the five boroughs reported to police last month, more than double the 17 reported in February. Anti-Jewish crimes spiked after Oct. 7, with 69 incidents in October and 62 in November.

The rate declined after that, with 31 incidents in both December and January, and 17 last month. March’s tally was the highest so far this year.

The reason for the spike wasn’t immediately clear, but the number of antisemitic hate crimes has fluctuated unpredictably in the past. In January 2022, for example, there were 15 antisemitic crimes reported to police, then in February there were 56, and in March, 23.

The pattern of anti-Israel protests in the city may also play a role, according to the Community Security Initiative, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions in the area. CSI believes protesters are increasingly targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. This could elevate more commonplace crimes into potential hate crimes, said Mitch Silber, the initiative’s director.

For example, if protesters harassed passersby in Union Square, it would legally be considered harassment, but if the demonstrators did the same thing at a synagogue, it could be considered a hate incident, Silber said.

There’s another factor, Silber said: the weather. Last year followed a similar pattern, with fewer antisemitic incidents in January and February than in March, when temperatures begin to rise.

“Colder weather keeps people indoors, both targets and targeters,” said Silber, a former intelligence official for the New York Police Department.

The 43 antisemitic crimes last month represented an increase of 48% over the 29 reported anti-Jewish incidents in March of 2023.

Even with the fluctuations, Jews remain the group most targeted in hate crimes nearly every month. In March, antisemitic incidents accounted for 57% of hate crimes against all groups.

There were 75 total hate crimes last month, with 12 based on sexual orientation, six targeting Asians, six against Black people, five against Muslims, two targeting other religious groups and one against an unspecified ethnic group.

Since the start of October, there have been 253 antisemitic incidents reported to police, far more than the 137 anti-Jewish crimes during the same period last year.

Not every reported hate crime results in an arrest or prosecution, and numbers can be revised following the initial tally. The legal standard for proving bias is high, making prosecution difficult.

Several incidents that occurred in the weeks after Oct. 7 are being pursued by prosecutors, including one in which a suspect allegedly punched a Jewish Israeli near Times Square while shouting antisemitic epithets, and another involving a 19-year-old who was charged with attacking an Israeli student with a stick on the Columbia University campus. Such crimes can take years to prosecute.