Guardian Angels
Members of the Guardian Angels stand watch on the streets of New York City.

Following a slew of anti-Semitic attacks in and around New York City in recent weeks, a group of vigilantes is taking to the streets to provide protection to the Jewish community. Known as the Guardian Angels, the unarmed volunteers have descended on Brooklyn to bolster what they’ve characterized as lax police support in response to the crisis.

"These attacks are taking place, and the cops have not been proactive at all. It comes from City Hall and the mayor. He's been just apathetic,” said Curtis Sliwa, who founded the private New York City crime prevention organization back in 1979.

Sporting red berets and matching satin jackets, the vigilantes are vowing to intervene in any hate crimes they spot – and hopefully deter attackers from engaging in violence in the first place.

"Nobody's going to commit an attack when we're around," Sliwa says. If the visual deterrence factor alone doesn't cut it, insists Sliwa, "we'll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen's arrest and hold them until the police arrive."

Fulfilling the Call

The Guardian Angels' increased patrols reportedly came at the behest of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, only hours before an attacker stabbed and wounded five people during a rabbi's Hanukkah house party in New York.

The attack was horrific in its own right – but unfortunately it was far from an isolated incident. NYPD has reported eight different attacks on Jews in Brooklyn alone since Dec. 13, including a woman who openly admitted to a hate crime after she slapping three women on the street simply because they were Jewish. Other victims reported being struck in the face and the back of the head, as well as having drinks thrown at them.

Sliwa thinks his Guardian Angels had little choice but to take matters into their own hands, seeing as the police weren’t able to effectively deter the attacks.

Where are the Cops?

In response to mounting criticism, Bill de Blasio clarified that there was "no tolerance for anti-Semitism" in his city, insisting "the best police department in the world" would increase its deployment in troubled neighborhoods and launch a new intelligence unit to prevent hate crimes from occurring. Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that "this recent spate of hate-fueled crimes is even more disturbing as they occurred during the Hanukkah holiday, a time when Jewish New Yorkers gather to celebrate."

But it’s worth pointing out that anti-Semitic attacks have been rising at alarming rates beyond the boundaries of New York, and way before Hanukkah. And the consequences have been deadly.  

In early December, a couple opened fire at a kosher market in Jersey City, the attack apparently fueled by deep-seated anti-Semitic views.

And of course there was the 2018 massacre of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

It is Safe to Be Jewish in America?

There was a time, not too long ago, where this might be considered a silly question. Of course Jews are safe in America – we’re one big melting pot of multiculturalism and religious diversity.

But America’s reputations as a safe haven for the Jewish people may be shifting; according to a recent study, one in three American Jews say they feel safer hiding their religion in public.

And the problem is far more insidious than just physical attacks. A 2018 report by the Anti-Defamation League estimated that over 3 million Twitter users posted roughly 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets that either included or contributed to negative stereotypes and conspiracy theories about Jews in a one-year period.

While we may argue about who or what exactly is responsible for that, it’s hard to argue that the Guardian Angels are serving a very real need. What do you think is fueling the uptick in anti-Semitism? What will it take to reverse the trend?

30 comments

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    The answer to anti “anything” is education. The less educated we become the more intolerant we become.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'lying hard': It's obvious you're not very well educated. From years 2000-2010 the level of years of education in the U.S. increased by 1.1 years. And you say we've become more tolerant during that decade?! Skin color, gender identity, religious bias, ethnic injustice, etc have all been exposed to an increase of attacks, discrimination and injustices. Come on, . . . pull your head out!

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        Did I say we’ve become more tolerant Mr Flugo? I actually think this nation has become less tolerant, possibly as a result of the lack of education. For example, you clearly are more intolerant of my comments, and others, that are based on logic and reason. This is a classic example of someone who lacks a good education.

        Your poor and very immature way of addressing people’s names is yet another.

        1. Lori Mongillo's Avatar Lori Mongillo

          Flugo does seem to be very immature and stuck in a mindset that cannot be penetrated. Closed mindedness is usually a product of upbringing. The educational system is not able to bypass what generations past have ingrained. It quite prevalent here in Tennessee.

        2. Tom's Avatar Tom

          Lionheart...I have read many of your comments on many different issues, and I find that while I do not agree with some of them, I feel you have a respect for people...it is said that flugo and others do not understand love, which transcends bibles and other writings, and should permeate all of our comments...using bibles and other man-made writings to justify anything is like trying to justify alchemy...souls are souls, and it does not matter if they are black, white, gay, transgender or anything else...Peace...Tom B

      2. Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr. the non-Christian U.L.C. Minister of Righteousness 's Avatar Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr. the non-Christian U.L.C. Minister of Righteousness

        The Holy Bible says that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God that is still called LORD according to Psalm 83:18. So many children of Adam and Eve that looked as if they are black Americans,white Americans,or certain Police Departments in Broward County in the state of Florida actually have told me,Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr., through telepathy that they are our Mafia.And my female archangel in my soul is called Samantha The Poetess really. We are all living in a dwelling place of demons or in a habitation of devils according to Revelation 18:2 in the Holy Bible. If you actually read the book of Revelation 18:1-8 really,you will find that Babylon the Great that is still the mother of harlots has not fallen physically in the United States of America oh U.S. President Donald J. Trump that is still married to the first woman Melania Trump at the White House in Washington D.C. with the U.S. President Donald J. Trump actually. The U.S. currency still says: "In God We Trust". Harlots,whores,whoremongers,and homosexual male prostitutes called dogs are all outside according to Revelation 22:15.And they will all go in the lake of fire and sulfur which means the second death according to Revelation 21:8 in the Holy Bible.Amen.

  1. rparish's Avatar rparish

    Antisemitism is as much about Jews as homophobia is about Gays or Islamophobia is about Muslims. Hatred, paranoia, fear and violence comes from within the person or group that espouses the feeling. Much, but not all, is fostered within conservative (reactionary) Christianity in this country. This is not about religion or doctrine. It is about power. Each of these groups represent some type of "threat" to normative society. Judaism is a theological threat. Islam is a cultural threat. Homosexuality (along with Feminism) is a threat to the archaic concept of masculinity. To counter these and other targets of systemic hatred and violence (Latino immigrants and residents, African-Americans, transgenders, etc.) we must strengthen our civil rights laws and enforce penalties. Laws cannot change hearts, but they can change behavior. This will never be a short-term fix. It will take generations. In many ways, the rise in violence is a desperate grasp by those who feel their power is slipping. To an extent, that is true. They fear change because they know what happens (or what has happened in the past) to minorities in our Western society.

  1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

    Something about this strikes me as another type of Bigotry? Where were the Guardian Angels When Police Beat and Murdered Blacks? are they ever there To Prevent Black on Black Crime? On a different Note by the above definition of Vigilante: Most street Gangs would qualify as part of their purpose is to protect their Hood; and the reasons for them existing; is often tied to problems with Corrupt and Racist Police..

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    When I was a child my mother worked as a secretary for a Jewish family who owned and operated a Speedy's Kwik Kopy printing business, here in Galveston. They were very good people, and our family (my mother's side), who happened to be Italian Catholics, became very good, close friends with them. I was then eight years old. And back then, our family were invited to attend a Passover, and a Bar mitzvah, which we attended. Years later, I had a landlord who was Jewish, and I quickly became good friends with him and his mother. I was also best friends with a Jewish man for the last several years of his life, and attended his memorial service at the Synagogue he belonged to. And besides all that Fiddler On The Roof was one of my all-time favorite movies. I've never known a bad Jewish person. All of my experiences with them have been good. And I've never been able to understand why anyone would ever persecute them. Of course, I can't understand why anyone would per

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I didn't get to finish the last sentence of my first comment, although the rest of it seems fairly obvious. I had to get up and do something, and left my android unattended for a few minutes. Upon my return it was telling me my comment would be posted, so I pressed OK. Therefore, I will finish that sentence now. Ofcouurse,I ça'nt understand why anyone would persecute anyone. [ And I'm glad I ça'nt.]

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I would like to recommend that we all listen to, and reflect upon the song by Depeche Mode that starts out with the lyrics "People are people, and why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?"

  1. John Joseph Dawber's Avatar John Joseph Dawber

    LARGE CITIES IN USA HAVE PROLEMS WITH CONTROLLING THEIR RESIDENTS. THE FACTOR IS FROM CITY POPULATIONS YOUNG GANGS ARE MADE AND HIS BRINGS ON INTERNAL INSECURITY .. EITHER ENHANCED POLICE PATROLS OR BETTER EDUCATING STANDARDS FOR THE YOUTH TO FIND BETTER JOBS, JOHN JOSEPH DAWBER

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I bet it's difficult for someone who only writes with capital letters to get and keep a job, too.

      1. John Joseph Dawber's Avatar John Joseph Dawber

        CAPITAL LETERS ARE EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO SEE AND UNDERSTAND. THE MILITARY USES LARGE LETTERS IN THEIR COMBAT REPORTS- JOHN JOSEPH DAWBER RETIRED SERGEANT UNTED STATES MARINE CORPS AND DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SPECIAL EMPLOYEE FOR 32 YEARS OF SERVICE AND ALSO LT IN MASSACHUSETTS GUARD FOR 10 YEARS!

        1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

          That kind of sort of makes the United States military sound like functioning illiterates, doesn't it Sarge. Also, when a soldier has the title of simply seargent, it means the lowest rank of seargent, E5. That doesn't say much for a thirty year veteran. Besides that, getting and keeping a job in society has nothing to do with what the military does, so what is your point?

  1. Dorothy Belinda Williams's Avatar Dorothy Belinda Williams

    Can someone assist me with the fact that the majority of these assaults against jews are committed by African Americans? Why are we supposed to ignore the issue of race here?

    1. rparish's Avatar rparish

      Black nationalism, like white nationalism, has violence just under the surface. Both must have a target to "explain" why they are not in power. Historically and theologically, Jews fit the bill for both. The BHI are as much examples of African Americans as the KKK is for European Americans.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        African Americans, European Americans, and any other kind of American sounds like Democratic thinking to me. Africans are citizens of the various countries be in Africa, Europeans are citizens of the various countries in Europe, and only citizens of the United States of America are Americans, plain and simple, for Canadians añd South Americans don't call themselves Americans. In reality, there aren't any different kinds of U.S. citizens. All we are are Americans, despite our individual differences, in favor of the majority vote on every issue, regardless of the races, religions, or ethnicities of whichever Americans are doing the voting. Are Republican's the only ones who have enough sense to figure that out?

    2. Sydney's Avatar Sydney

      Hi Dorothy, I can assist you. First, it's helpful to acknowledge that the fact you brought up is not a fact. In fact, the fact is we simply don't know the race of most perpetrators of anti-semitic crimes. In cases where data has been collected, the majority of offenders are white, not black.

      You also mentioned that we are "supposed to ignore the issue of race" and I can assist you with that as well. People certainly shouldn't "ignore" race, but I would argue to a certain extent it's a little unnecessary. Tacking on a race to perpetrators of a certain type of crime makes it very easy for people to use that race as a scapegoat ("I don't have to worry about X crime; that's the problem of Y race" or "We need to get rid of Z race to stop X crime"). Instead, we should condemn anti-semitic crimes no matter the race of the criminal.

      From the data available from the FBI, most of the known perpetrators of anti-semitic crimes are committed by non-hispanic white people, but that does not mean that those committed by other races should be taken less seriously.

  1. Bradford Jeffrey Jones's Avatar Bradford Jeffrey Jones

    The Guardians Angels are NOT vigilantes. I stopped reading after that ridiculous statement.

    1. rparish's Avatar rparish

      vig·i·lan·te /ˌvijəˈlan(t)ē/ vigilante; plural noun: vigilantes

      "A member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate."

      So what is wrong with the word?

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Guardian angels aren't vigilantes, and I talk to mine everyday, but The Guardian Angels are vigilantes, and very good ones, from what I've read about them.

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        You have me very curious now Sir Carl. What are you referring to when you say you "talk to guardian angels"? Do you actually see them? What do they look like if you do? Is there any way you can prove you are not being deluded? I don't seem to be able to find any good supporting evidence that they actually exist. Can you point me in the right direction that supports your claim?

        1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

          THE ANGELs PERSE' have BEEN AROUND N Y C for GENERATIONs STARTED back in the SIXTIES COMBATING CRIME on the SUBWAYs and it REALLY HELPED the PEOPLE......

        2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

          No sir, Sir Lionheart, I cannot prove any such claims, nor would I care to try. Nor would I ever seek to convince anyone of my beliefs, but only state what I believe in, and have experienced in various ways, of which cannot be proven. And I hope that gives you something to laugh about whole heartedly.

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Thank you Sir Carl. No, it doesn’t give me anything to laugh about. I value everyone’s perspective of life, and that means I value yours. If you are happy with your beliefs and it’s helping you get through this life of ours, I say, go for it.

            Thank you for your post.

        3. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

          I forgot to mention last night that what seem to be most often thought of as guardian angels by Christians (and others), are what we of Wicca refer to as spirit guides, and guardian spirits. And yes, Sir Lionheart, I am one of those people who communicate with discarnate entities, both mentally, and sometimes even in person. But no sir, that is not something I can prove to you with physical evidence, nor would I ever care to try. These are things that can only be known by those who experience them, and all others are left out in the cold, to laugh at what they have not yet experienced. Does that make any of us better or worse? I think not. It only means that some of us are subjected to different experiences.

  1. Jim's Avatar Jim

    It is sad that people just cant seem to get along. Part of it is education but I think a large part of it is also lack of response from the government and the community at large. Think about it if people in the community pulled together this stuff would end. Black on Black crime in predominately African American neighborhoods is rampant. Yet all the folks do is yell at the police when they show up. I don't understand why the police in some of the NY hoods just don't even bother to show up when they get a call if the community is not going to back them up. This all started when the Obama jumped the gun and accused a white cop of unlawful use of lethal force which turned out to be wrong. If you want to live in a neighborhood that is falling apart and unsafe for your family then don't back up the help when they come.

    1. rparish's Avatar rparish

      Where to start... "This all started when the Obama jumped the gun..." Yes, I remember when life was sweet and wonderful before we dared to elect a black man as president. Violent crimes have dropped dramatically since the peak of the early 1990s. We are now seeing rates similar to those of the 1960s. But you certainly wouldn't know that by listening to news programs or those who are profiting from fear. To think that people "want" to live in areas where their families are not safe is beyond ignorant. It is willful self-delusion. This is victim blaming, pure and simple. "Why don't you just move?" assumes that those who cannot or do not live elsewhere are somehow morally suspect. It is only a short step from this thinking to "If they only were more like ME, they wouldn't have all these problems." Bias, bigotry and racism is squarely a problem with the hater, not the hated.

      1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

        I call it "Willful ignorance" but I like your reference: " It is willful self-delusion" one is the Product of inability to Comprehend X Refusal to Learn anything contradictory to ones Small mindedness.. The Other Just Drinking The Fox Koolaide and Otherwise Supporting an Unrealistic Image that is Contrary to Logic and Reality... The resurgence of Bigotry that is supported By or Racist Bigoted Prez who is Delusional as a loco weed eating Bull...

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