The Anti-Defamation League is on high alert over a surge in violent threats against Jewish people. They say it has ticked up since the attack on Israel by Hamas. Just one station traveled to New York City to show you how the organization is working to protect Boston and the rest of the country.
“You can really kind of feel the tension,” said Harvard University Freshman Charlie Covit.
As the war in Israel rages, fear is building here at home.
“We have tracked 400 or so rallies around the country and especially after the first few days after the massacre, it was celebration, glorification and legitimizing Hamas brutality,” said Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL of the Center on Extremism.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, located in Manhattan, is working around the clock to track and intercept threats. They say college campuses have been hotspots since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
“Student groups and individuals have really, to a shocking degree, adulated, praised what Hamas has done,” said Jonah Steinberg, Rabbi and Dr. Regional Director of ADL New New England.
One of those student groups protesting on Harvard University’s campus is blaming Israel for the violence. That has Jewish students on edge.
“For the last week, me and my friends are all staying together,” said Maya Shiloni, a Harvard student from Israel. “We’re scared to walk alone. We are not walking alone at night.”
ADL leaders tell 7 Investigates antisemitism has been on the rise in Boston over the last several years along with growing white supremacist activity.
“We are seeing specific threats to Jewish institutions. We are seeing incidents of bullying in schools,” Steinberg said.
What is happening in Boston is a nationwide trend, one that is being tracked in New York City at the ADL Headquarters
“Not surprisingly, large states with large populations, New York, California, Massachusetts,” Segal said. “We are just in a very sensitive time.”
The ADL Center on Extremism is the central hub for tracking hate groups and their movements.
A team of cyber investigators have embedded themselves deep inside the dark waters of the internet watching, listening and disrupting any potential threats.
“We have saved over 200 years of human time that would have otherwise had to be spent listening to that,” Segal said.
They’ve developed technology that helps them sift through millions of social media posts in a matter of seconds. Antisemitic activity is reported to authorities.
“It’s because we know violence is never far behind,” Segal said. “So, the more that we can spend time in places that most Americans are not in, the more we can provide an early warning sign to law enforcement.”
In 2022, the Center on Extremism informed law enforcement of nearly 1,800 threats.
“People have heard of Pittsburgh and Poway and Charleston,” Segal said. “But there are dozens of other cities that people will never hear about.”
They have also seen a rise in threats against the Muslim community, as well.
“We recognize that, in order to combat antisemitism, we also must fight anti-Muslim bigotry and misogyny and racism and all forms of hate,” Segal said. “This is our mission. This is what we do.”
The ADL says that the rhetoric they are seeing will get worse before it gets better. They say it is important for all of us to call out hate speech when we see it to prevent it from brewing into acts of violence.