Hate attacks up in New York as shul gets bomb threat

By Ellen Tumposky, January 6, 2011

Jews were the most frequently targeted minority group in hate crimes in New York State in 2009, according to a report issued by state officials.

Anti-Jewish hate crimes rose by 15 per cent over the previous year and represented more than a third of hate crimes committed in 2009 in the state, the report issued last week by the Criminal Justices Services Division revealed.

The report came as a synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan said it had received a letter on December 30 threatening to blow up the shul on New Year's Eve.

Ohab Zedek, an Orthodox congregation, was one of a dozen synagogues to receive the bomb-threat letters, Rabbi Allen Schwartz told the New York Post. "We have reasons to believe someone wants to spread fear," Mr Schwartz said.

Police evacuated the synagogue - a 1920s building known for its elaborate Moorish architecture - but found no device. They were unable to confirm the threats to other synagogues.

The state report found an across-the-board increase of about 14 per cent in hate crimes reported to the police between 2008 and 2009.

Crimes against Jews mirrored this trend: 251 such crimes were reported, up from 219 in 2008. Those made up 85 per cent of all religious bias incidents reported in the state and 37 per cent of all hate crimes.

The breakdown of anti-Jewish crimes revealed that 55 per cent were against property, while 20 per cent were aimed at individuals.

Other groups that were targeted include blacks - victims of 21 per cent of the crimes - and male homosexuals, the target of 14 per cent of incidents.

The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern about the new numbers. "Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be targeted for hate crimes more than any other minority group in the state, and at a level that remains disturbingly high," said New York regional director Ron Meier.

The ADL's own audit for the same period found 209 antisemitic incidents in the state, a slight rise from 207 in 2008.

Last updated: 1:48pm, January 6 2011