Jewish Institutions Face Another Wave of Bomb Threats

“I haven’t seen anything like this in terms of a sustained campaign,” says one hate-crime expert.

People returning to a JCC evacuated in Florida in late February.Wilfredo Lee/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

At least five more Jewish community centers around the United States received bomb threats on Tuesday, including in Milwaukee, Miami, Portland, Oregon; Rochester, New York; and the DC metro area, the Huffington Post reported. Offices of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, also received threats in multiple locations.

The incidents mark the sixth wave of such threats since early January, bringing the total to around 100, according to Mark Potok, an expert on extremism and hate crimes at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Headstones have also been vandalized in at least three Jewish cemeteries around the country. On Friday, a troubled ex-journalist was arrested in connection with threats against eight Jewish community centers, although he appeared to be a copycat and federal law enforcement officials told the New York Times that he was not believed to be behind most of the threats.

Potok sees a disturbing new trend. “I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years now and I haven’t seen anything like this in terms of a sustained campaign of bomb threats,” he says. “The cemetery desecrations—that’s more of the kind of thing we see in Europe, in countries like Poland and Estonia, where there’s a lot of residual anti-Semitism,” he added.

More than a month after the wave of threats began, President Donald Trump denounced the rising anti-Semitism, but critics say he hasn’t gone nearly far enough to reject America’s emboldened far-right hate groups.

The number of active hate groups in the US rose to a near-historic high of 917 in 2016, according to a tally by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among hate crimes motivated by religious bias, anti-Semitic attacks continue to be the most common: There were 664 such attacks in 2015, according to the most recent FBI data.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend