This is what they had long been fearing. As the threats increased, as the online abuse grew increasingly vicious, as the defacing of synagogues and community centers with swastikas became more commonplace, the possibility of a violent attack loomed over America’s Jewish communities.
On Saturday, the worst of those fears was made real as a gunman stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing at least 11 of its members and injuring many more, reportedly shouting “All Jews must die” during his rampage. It is the worst single attack on American Jews in the history of the country. And it is one that many who have been monitoring anti-Semitic activity in the United States have been dreading.
“Unfortunately, in the atmosphere we are in, as shocking as these incidents always are, they are not surprising,” said Oren Segal, director of the Anti Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “Anti-Semitism is the lifeblood of extremism, and violence is never that far behind.”
In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, the ADL chronicled a 57 percent rise of incidents in 2017 over the previous year. That included everything from bomb threats and assaults to vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the flooding of college campuses with anti-Semitic posters and graffiti.