WASHINGTON - Religious leaders from across the D.C. area along with local elected officials attended an interfaith service in the nation’s capital to honor the memory of the victims killed or injured during the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam were among more than 1,000 people gathered inside the Adas Israel Congregation Monday night.
"To our Jewish friends, I say on behalf of us and all of Washington D.C., we love you, we mourn with you and we are sorry that our society let you down on Saturday morning,” said Bowser.
Satuday's deadly shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue is part of an alarming trend across the country. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents were 57 percent higher in 2017 than the previous year – the largest single-year increase on record.
In 2017, there were 1,015 incidents of harassment, including 163 bomb threats against Jewish institutions – up 41 percent from 2016. There were 952 incidents of vandalism, a spike of 86 percent from 2016. However, there were 19 physical assaults, which were down 47 percent from 2016.
Police departments across the country are seeing a huge increase in all kinds of hate crimes, including the D.C. region.
On Oct. 16, a man was caught on camera yelling racial slurs and threatening employees at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Southeast D.C.
Earlier this month, 19 swastikas were spray-painted at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in Fairfax County in Virginia – the second time this type of vandalism has happened in two years.
Last week, a gunman reportedly tried to get into a black church before fatally shooting two people at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky.
“We have been tracking for 40 years incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States, and for about the last 15 years, we saw a slight decrease and there was a sense that we were making progress,” said Doron Ezickson, the director for the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington D.C. regional office. “Then in 2016, we saw a 34-percent increase, and in 2017, a 57-percent increase – the largest increase we have seen in 40 years.”
There are several factors on why hate crime is on the rise, which include how toxic the political divide has become as well as how normalized hate speech and other extremism has become.