(Tabletmag.com/ BY EVE BARLOW) I don’t think of Delaware as a center of anti-Semitic hate. But on the night of Aug. 26, the University of Delaware’s Chabad house was burned to the ground, causing an estimated $75,000 worth of damage. According to the state fire marshal, the fire was intentionally set. While the university’s president acknowledged that the site was “an active part of UD’s religious, faith, and spiritual diversity” the fire marshal’s office found no indication that this was a hate crime. Gov. John Carney called the crime “upsetting.”
Only three years earlier, in 2017, Gov. Carney was showing his solidarity and support while visiting the Siegel Jewish Community Center and its Albert Einstein Academy primary school in Wilmington after the JCC received five bomb threats in the space of two months. In February of this year, the same JCC reported that it’s still receiving bomb threats. Delaware’s Jewish community is pushing for an expansion of the state’s hate crime laws.
The pathway from experiencing casual hatred to receiving bomb threats to living communal life under siege to suffering defaced and burned down buildings is all too wearyingly familiar for Jews in Delaware, as well as in the traditional urban centers of American Jewish life. Horrifying footage from Brooklyn on August 29 showed two Haredi men being rammed by a car—an incident that seems no more politically determinable than the regular anti-Semitic chanting or vandalizing of Jewish property at Black Lives Matter marches, or white supremacist bomb threats.
Two weekends ago, a sign reading “The Jews Want a Race War” appeared over the I-405 freeway in Los Angeles. It was dangled by a man named Jon Minadeo Jr. One sign turned into two, with the adjacent sign reading “Honk if you know.” According to witnesses many cars honked. The sign was eventually removed.
The following day, Minadeo was filmed outside the Chabad in Marina del Rey, exercising his free speech rights against America’s Jews once more as part of a tour he dubbed “Name the Nose.” “These Jewish terrorists are the people behind 9/11,” he shouted on the steps. The white van he drove was graffitied with slogans that offer some of his conspiracy theories: “The Jews are spawns of Satan,” “Trump is owned by Jews,” “Jews run Hollywood.” His group, the Goyim Defense League, posted anti-Semitic flyers last year in San Francisco and run a YouTube-style site called Goyim TV.