Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this morning that President Donald Trump is the driving force behind an increase in anti-Semitic incidents witnessed across the city and throughout the nation—one day after the commander-in-chief lashed out at a Jewish reporter who tried to question him about the spike in bias crimes.
The president told Jake Turx, of the Brooklyn-based Ami Magazine, yesterday that his query about recent bomb threats against Jewish community centers nation was “not fair” before ordering the reporter to “sit down.” De Blasio, who has his own history of bashing journalists, insisted in his weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment on WNYC today that Trump is definitely responsible for the rise in violence and vandalism directed against Jews and other minorities.
“There is no question and it’s very, very troubling,” the mayor said. “The horrible, hateful rhetoric that was used in this election by candidate Trump and by a lot of his supporters directly connects to an increase since the election in anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Muslim incidents and anti-LGBT incidents. It is clear here, and it is clear around the country.”
The New York metro area is home to the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel, and conservative Jewish communities in southern and Central Brooklyn largely supported the president last November.
Nonetheless, last December the NYPD reported a “huge spike” in hate crimes since the election, with more than half the incidents committed against Jewish people. There was a smaller increase in bias-motivated offenses against Muslims, sexual minorities and white people.
The police department told the Observer at a press conference in January that the number of hate crimes had “leveled off” in the new year. Yet it released statistics earlier this week showing a 81 percent increase in the number of such offenses compared to the first months of 2016, a figure driven largely by a 115 percent increase in the number of incidents committed against Jews.
The police department has reported making swift arrests in the majority of such cases, and increasing its attention to targeted communities—a claim the mayor reiterated this morning.
“The NYPD is very forcefully confronting this situation. We’re making very clear any bias attack will lead to immediate and serious consequences for anyone who perpetrates it,” the mayor said. “And when we see any patterns of attack, we reinforce certain communities, certain areas, with additional NYPD presence, working closely with the community.”
De Blasio asserted the incidents in the United States are part of a global pattern, which he linked to the rise of hardline nationalist movements across the Western world.
“There is a rise in anti-Semitism, not only in the United States directly related to our election, but look at the xenophobic parties in Europe that are bringing out all the worst instincts in Western European countries,” the mayor said. “And these are parties that directly connect to a Nazi and Fascist history, directly.”
“The question needs to be dealt with: negative forces have been unleashed in this country and they have to be beaten back. And in this city we’re going to do that very vividly,” de Blasio concluded.