NewsLocal NewsInvestigates


Florida sees significant rise in hateful acts against the Jewish community

Posted at 1:30 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 22:12:21-05

SOUTHWEST, FLA. — In 2021 and 2021, there were 12,347 incidents of extremists or anti-Semitism in the United States. That's according to data gathered here.

Of these, Florida saw 223 incidents of anti-Semitism, and 10 incidents of anti-Semitism in Florida - including a case of vandalism at a Bonita Springs’ rabbi’s home.

You might remember Bonita Springs Chabad Center’s Rabbi Mendy Greenburg’s message. Since the incident at his house, he's pushed for more hate crime education throughout Southwest Florida.

That’s after the Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrested two teens for allegedly vandalizing his home, and calling for a hate crime charge.

“We have seen in the state of Florida, and throughout the country a significant rise in antisemitism,” says Lonny Wilk’s interim director of the Anti-Defamation League.

To put the rabbi’s experience into perspective, we turned to the anti-defamation league’s interim director.

“The last few years have seen the highest levels of anti-Semitic incidents since we have been tracking in 1979.”

The Anti-Defamation League tracks hate crimes on their website.

In 2015, the data showed 64 anti-Semitic incidents nationally with only 3 here in Florida.

Now look at last year, almost 8 times more nationally.

18 times more here in Florida.

“When we’re seeing Holocaust annihillism, when we’re seeing Holocaust analogies and efforts to minimize and trivialize the Holocaust as we’ve seen over the last couple years during the Covid pandemic ...when some people have compared vaccine mandates and mask restrictions to the Nazi efforts which ultimately resulted in murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million others. So for the Nazis, Jews were not even considered a human race. Jews were considered a sub-human race.” 

Wilk says similar to Nazi messaging during the Holocaust, today’s propaganda campaigns are being spread online - along with fears about world incidents including Covid-19.

“We have seen that conspiracy theory of Jewish power and Jewish control from the left and from the right,” Will tells FOX 4.

In Southwest Florida, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, Jeffrey Feld, says the rise in anti-Semitic incidents have encouraged further efforts to prioritize safety.

“They didn’t think it was a big concern at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh before it happened. They didn’t think it was a big concern at Poway in California when it happened. They didn’t think it was a big deal, although they did training in Colleyville, Texas.”

Feld says the federation’s also worked closely with FBI and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Have a TIP? Send it to the FOX 4 Investigation team