NEW YORK – Anti-Semitic attacks and incidents in the City of New York were on the rise well before the 2016 presidential election kicked off, but Donald Trump’s candidacy and surprise win have exacerbated it, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
“There is an increase since the election, but in terms of anti-Semitic activity, I’ve spoken to this as you know, I’ve seen an increase around the world, around the western world certainly,” de Blasio told Jewish Insider at a media roundtable for ethnic media in the Blue Room at City Hall. “That has worried me for many reasons. This is exacerbated, this election has exacerbated. There is some reality to the notion that a sense of permission was given to people or they received a sense of permission to act out even more blatantly on their hatred.¨
The New York Police Department said on Monday that there had been an 115 percent increase in hate crimes since Election Day, with 24 of the 43 incidents reported as anti-Semitic.
¨We had a huge spike right after the election. It’s somewhat slowed a little bit,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters. “Since Election Day, it’s 43 cases versus 20. They’re up 23 which is a big percentage of 115 percent. We’ve seen most of those are anti-Semitic – 24 versus eight.”
Boyce attributed the increase to the effect of the national discourse. “If you remember, two years ago, Israel was involved in a war and we had a huge spike in anti-Semitic – the same thing happens,” he explained. “The national discourse has effects on hate speech.”
The mayor said he believes in a carrot and stick approach to immediately stop the rise in hate crimes. “Given that acquirement my answer is that we will be even more aggressive in terms of arrest and prosecution of anyone who acts illegally, that we will clearly whenever we sense a systemic threat that we can identify we will proactively have a lot of NYPD presence available, that we have to do more to get people to report what they know,” said de Blasio. “And we have to aggressively put forward the positive examples.”
The mayor said he plans on spending time in the communities who are affronted “in solidarity” to make vivid the fact that “we are going to stand with any community under attack.”
De Blasio, a Hillary Clinton supporter, is running for reelection in 2017. In 2013, de Blasio was the first Democrat to win the Jewish vote since Ed Koch won his reelection bid in 1985. He bested his Republican opponent among Jewish voters by 53-44 percent, according to exit polling by Edison Research for The New York Times. In an 8-way race in the Democratic primary, de Blasio received 39% of the Jewish vote, who made up 19% of the electorate.
Asked how he would balance the ideological chasm between Trump, who received 70 percent of support in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and himself, de Blasio asserted: ¨I would say that there were a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump, whether in this city or in the rest of the country, who were expressing their anger at the status quo. I disagree with the decision to vote for Donald Trump, but I’m also angry at the status quo in this country. I’ve said that I thought in many ways that my party needed to have done a better job explaining what we stood for and why we would address people’s real concerns, particularly their economic concerns.”
According to de Blasio, “There are a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump who have previously voted for Barack Obama or for other Democrats. I think it’s absolutely unfair to miss the fact that those individuals who are largely voting out of economic frustration, and valid economic frustration. In terms of this community here in the city it’s not a surprise. There are some members of the Jewish community who have been friends and supporters that I disagree with on some issues, they disagree with me on some issues, but we’ve found a huge amount of common ground in terms of the needs of the community, in terms of working on things like affordable housing, public safety, trying to make sure that all communities are respected and their faiths are respected and their cultures are respected. We found lots of common ground, and I think that will continue.”