- - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Residents of Washington, D.C., may be grimly familiar with the so-called Black Hebrew Israelites, or at least a radical subset of them who are avowedly “Black Supremacist.” They tend to hang out in the capital’s Chinatown neighborhood, near where the Washington Wizards and Capitals play, and shout racist, sexist and anti-gay epithets at passersby. They’re a menacing presence, intending to frighten and intimidate Washingtonians and tourists going about their business.

The Black Hebrew Israelites were at the center of a bizarre scandal earlier this year, when they harassed and menaced a group of children from Covington, Kentucky, on the National Mall. The students were visiting Washington on a field trip, and while waiting for their bus to pick them up, a group of Black Hebrew Israelites approached them and began screaming racist and sexist insults at them. The students retorted, as best they could, which led a Native American gentleman by the name of Nathan Phillips to walk between the two groups. This incident was filmed. The mainstream media, of course, decided that it was the Covington school children who were the villains in this scenario — a famous bit of misleading reporting that has spurred lawsuits.

The Black Hebrew Israelites often traffic in violent rhetoric; an FBI threat assessment once noted that “violent radical fringe members” of the group hold “beliefs [that] bear a striking resemblance to the Christian Identity theology practiced by many white supremacists.” And this week blood was spilled in New Jersey by one man who was allegedly tied to the group in a racist hate crime targeting Jews.

“The mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, said a shootout that unfolded there Tuesday was the result of a ‘targeted’ attack on a kosher grocery store. The standoff lasted several hours in a busy neighborhood, which also includes a synagogue and a school,” CBS News reported. “A police detective and three people in the store were killed, as were the two suspects.”

“The shooters who killed a police detective and three others in Jersey City Tuesday are believed to be a couple who have possible ties to what some consider a hate group, investigators said,” CBS continued. “Newly released surveillance video shows a man and woman get out of a stolen van and start firing gunshots into a kosher grocery store.”

That hate group was the Black Hebrew Israelites. And one of the alleged shooters reportedly posted anti-Jewish and anti-police sentiments online before commissioning the slaughter.

Jersey City has in recent years become a center of Jewish life in the New York area, as high rents in Brooklyn have compelled many Orthodox to move from the Empire State to the Garden State. Jersey City, a cosmopolitan enclave just across the East River from Lower Manhattan, prides itself on its diversity and (relative) affordability. That it would be the sight of an anti-Semitic massacre is chilling.

Of course, the same can be said for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and San Diego, California, both sites of anti-Jewish violence in the past year and a half. A white supremacist allegedly murdered 11 Jews worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October. And this April another alleged white supremacist gunman murdered a woman at a synagogue in San Diego. Even Brooklyn, one of the most heavily Jewish parts of the United States, has been the site of several instances of anti-Jewish harassment this year.

For at least a century, the United States has been by far the safest country for Jews to reside in; unfortunately, Jewish communities in Europe, South America and the Middle East (including especially Israel) face daily threats to their safety. It would be a tragedy and an outrage if America lost that special role as a haven for one of history’s most oppressed peoples.

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