That is what some vandal or vandals changed a sign at the Avenue J train station in the Midwood neighborhood in Brooklyn to read. As of now, the sign has been removed and police are investigating this as a bias incident. This is the second incident in Midwood in less than a week. Last Friday, antisemitic vandals firebombed several cars and spray painted swastikas and “KKK” on other cars and benches less than a mile away (also see fizziks’ diary about the incident and the neighborhood).
I happen to know this train station quite well. When I was in both high school and college this is the train station I would use when taking public transportation to and from school. It is in the heart of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, with nearly all the stores along Avenue J for the ten blocks running from Ocean Avenue to Coney Island Avenue being closed on Friday nights and Saturdays and nearly all the restaurants being kosher.
These incidents come less than two weeks after the Anti-Defamation League released the results a survey showing an increase in antisemitic attitudes amongst Americans. The survey found 15 percent of Americans hold deeply antisemitic views, which represents an increase of 3 percent from when the survey was last conducted two years ago. Additionally, the FBI released its hate crimes statistics from 2010 a mere two days ago. 1,322 incidents were categorized as religiously motivated. 887 of them, some 67 percent, were antisemitic. Compare this to the fact that Jews make up only 2 percent of the US population.
Incidents such as what have happened in my hometown of Brooklyn, the poll released by the ADL and the statistics released by the FBI serve as stark reminders that for all that is said, as a Jew I remain a minority in this country. It also reminds all of us of the fact that all minority groups face upsurges in bigotry during perilous economic times. After last week’s antisemitic incident there was a groundswell of support from all New Yorkers, culminating in a march at the site of the attack. That, unfortunately, does not change the underlying facts. We can all only hope that these two incidents represent an anomaly and not the beginning of a new and disturbing trend. To borrow from the song New York, New York, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.