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CNN Special Reports

CNN Special Report: Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 21, 2022 - 21:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Antisemitism, the oldest hate. Ugly, deadly and on the rise in America.

UNKNOWN: In Chicago two synagogue's vandalized.

BASH: Shooters targeting this Jersey City Kosher Supermarket.

UNKNOWN: Three victims are shot and killed, at two different Jewish facilities near Kansas City.

UNKNOWN: Jews are the most targeted religious group in America says the FBI.

UNKNOWN: All I say, never again, but guess what it is again and again and again.

UNKNOWN: The threat level against the Jewish community is historic.

BASH: Hate, once limited to extremists, fanatics.

Now mainstream.


UNKNOWN: There's no question that antisemitism is being normalized.

BASH: On city streets, online --

UNKNOWN: We've seen people live stream their actual attacks.

BASH: This is disgusting. On college campuses, in politics.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO OF THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: It has become a prop for people on both the right and the left.

BASH: How did we get here and how do we stop it?

UNKNOWN: They need to be disrupted today.

UNKNOWN: Whatever challenge with darkest evil, we will fight that with light. BASH: This is a CNN Special Report, "Rising Hate: Antisemitism in

America". January 15th, 2022 was a bitter cold day in Colleyville, Texas.

CHARLIE CYRTON-WALKER, RABBI AT CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL IN COLLEYVILLE, TEXAS: It was in the 30s in Texas, doesn't usually get that cold.

BASH: So when a visitor knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker didn't think twice about welcoming him in.

CYTRON-WALKER: When I opened the door to just offer a word, he asked if we had a night shelter. So I let him in, I got him some tea.

BASH: Rabbi Cytron-Walker then began the Sabbath service on Zoom with three congregants there in person.

CYTRON-WALKER: My back was turned away from the congregation. I thought I heard a click, a click of a gun. I went to the back of the room and that's when he pulled the gun on me.

(JEFF COHEN, CONGREGATION MEMBER): And within a few seconds, he got up and started yelling. I've got a bomb.

BASH: Jeff Cohen (ph) came to pray and became a hostage.

(COHEN): My friend was sitting next to me and I quickly dialed 911.

BASH: People watching the live stream could hear the gunman.

UNKNOWN: Hostages are surrounding me. And I'm going to die. I am going to die at the end of this, all right?

UNKNOWN: We believe there to be one individual that is holding people hostage inside Beth Israel Congregation.

BASH: The hostage stand-off lasted for nearly 11 hours. While FBI special agent in charge Matthew DeSarnos (ph) team negotiated with the gunman.

(MATTHEW DESARNOS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT): He was demanding the release of a convicted Al-Qaida terrorist who was housed nearby. (COHEN): He believed that coming in here and attacking Jews, that the

Jews controlled everything. So they would make it happen. Jews controlled the government. Jews controlled the banks. Jews controlled the media. He truly believed this.

LIPSTADT: It's a prejudice that's rooted in the conspiracy theory.

BASH: Deborah Lipstadt is widely considered one of the world's foremost experts on antisemitism.

LIPSTADT: Antisemitism has this strange title of the oldest of the longest hatred. Hating Jews is very convenient.

BASH: Why?

LIPSTADT: You need someone to blame if there's a plague in your town. You need someone to blame if the economy goes bad. You need someone to blame if the war is lost.

BASH: Jeff Cohen (ph) worried those conspiracy theories might end his life and was able to use his phone to post a message on Facebook.

(COHEN): At CBI, there is a gunman here. He says he has a bomb. Remember me. Stop hate. Really painful to remember. A little painful to remember.


UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

BASH: Around 8 o'clock that night, the negotiations deteriorated and the gunman grew agitated.

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

(DESARNOS): His demeanor changed. It was much more demanding with deadlines, ultimatums, that's when I authorized our hostage rescue team to execute a deliberate hostage rescue.

BASH: And at the exact same moment --

CYTRON-WALKER: For the first time all day, he didn't have his hand on the trigger. And so I told the guys to run.

(COHEN): We ran. We went through that door, as fast as we could.

BASH: And what you're seeing is that escape. The Colleyville crisis was just one in an alarming rise of antisemitic attacks across the United States.


BASH: You're the deputy director of the FBI. The fact that you thought it was important enough to sit down to talk about antisemitism in America. What does that say about the threat?

ABBATE: The threat level against the Jewish community is historic and over the last few years it's been on the rise.

BASH: Are biases towards Jews higher than it is towards people of other religions?

ABBATE: No doubt about that.

BASH: Over the past five years, FBI data shows Jews have been the victims of hate crimes more often than any other religion.

GREENBLATT: In 2021, we tracked the highest number of incidents we've ever seen.

BASH: Jonathan Greenblatt is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League which has been tracking antisemitic incidents for more than 40 years.

GREENBLATT: It's bad in a way we haven't seen since arguably the 1930s'. There's no question that antisemitism is being normalized. It's become a political prop for people on both the right and the left.

LIPSTADT: Irrespective of where it's coming from, people will lie on the same template of charges whether it's COVID-19, whether it's climate change, whatever it might be. The Jews are behind it. It would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous.

BASH: Why is there this spike right now?

LIPSTADT: There's been a rise in the divisiveness in this country generally. We're a very convenient scapegoat.

(RUTH STEINFELD, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR): All my parents wanted to do is protect my sister and I.

BASH: Holocaust survivor Ruth Seinfeld (ph) knows this all too well.

(STEINFELD): The holocaust started with words. Hitler yelling, screaming how they had to get rid of us.

ADOLPH HITLER TRANSLATED: -- the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.

(STEINFELD): And on September 9th, 1942, both my parents were put to death in Auschwitz.

BASH: She was just 13 years old when she and her family were sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Her mother made the heart wrenching decision to let a French organization take her and her sister to safety.

(STEINFELD): The last time I saw my mom was when she insisted that we get on that bus and I didn't want to get on the bus. I wanted to stay with her. I have this picture of watching momma waving goodbye to me from the street when I'm waving and crying.

BASH: Steinfeld (ph) lives just a few hours from Colleyville. You experienced the kind of hate that no one should and lost your parents because of it, but you're a proud American. Do you see some of that hate bubbling up here?

(STEINFELD): Absolutely. At first it was just once in a while, now it seems to be in the air, all over. All I say is never again but guess what? It is again and again and again.

UNKNOWN: Melania Trump has a half-brother that apparently she did not know about.

BASH: Coming up.


FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I heard the article was nasty. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Some of your supporters have viciously

attacked this (inaudible) with antisemitic attacks, death threats.


BASH: One of the reasons for the rise in antisemitism.






D. TRUMP: Melania, so great --


BASH: As Donald Trump quickly catapulted from long shot to frontrunner in 2016.


MELANIA TRUMP, FORMER FIRST LADY: It was a great moment. OK?


BASH: The spotlight shined on his wife, would be First Lady Melania Trump.


M. TRUMP: Good evening. Isn't he the best?


JULIA IOFFE, JOURNALIST FOR THE ATLANTIC: At the time, nobody really knew who she was.

BASH: Journalist Julia Ioffe was assigned an article on Melania Trump and traveled to her native Slovenia.

IOFFE: Somebody approached my fixer (ph) and me and said, well you know she has an illegitimate half-brother that she doesn't know about. We went to the archives. We found the custody and the child support proceedings. It all checked out.

BASH: The article posted on April 27th, 2016. Within 24 hours, Melania Trump reacted on Facebook accusing Ioffe of having an agenda.

IOFFE: The problem is when your husband runs for president, everything is fair game.

BASH: So when she says it was a hit job, you say --

IOFFE: It wasn't a hit job. It was just, this is the family.

BASH: Soon after a Neo-Nazi website posted this. Filthy Russian kike, Julia Ioffe attacks empress Melania. Then go ahead and send her, Ioffe a Tweet.

IOFFE: I started getting all these calls and all of this ugly stuff on social media and my email and then the photoshops of my face in a gas chamber, or my face in an Auschwitz mugshot. So many of these people were making overt connects between these antisemitic actions and speech and they're support for Donald Trump.

OREN SEGAL, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER ON EXTREMISM: Antisemitism is often actually used as a tool to silence people.


BASH: Oren Segal runs the Anti-Defamation League's Center of Extremism.

SEGAL: There's a troll army that was created. Then you harass somebody until they say uncle.

BASH: But Ioffe would not cry uncle.

IOFFE: So people feel very brave sitting behind -- behind their keyboards.

BASH: She was motivated by her family who fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union when she was young.

IOFFE: I owed it both to my parents and to my ancestors to not be quiet about it.


BLITZER: Some of your supporters have viciously attacked this woman Julia Ioffe with antisemitic attacks, death threats --


BASH: Soon after the attacks, Wolf Blitzer interviewed the presumptive Republican nominee.


D. TRUMP: I don't know anything about that.

BLITZER: But your message --

D. TRUMP: You mean fans of mine?

BLITZER: Supposed fans of yours posting these --

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: And when pressed again, this.


BLITZER: But your message to these fans is --

D. TRUMP: I don't have a message to the fans. There is nothing more dishonest than the media.


BASH: So his silence was taken how?


BASH: Brittan Heller is a human rights advocate and a professor who complies data about online hate. You actually saw data to back that up.

HELLER: Yes. We would see the number of attacking Tweets on Jewish journalists spike. It was the largest spike that we saw in our dataset. People took that as a green light.

JASON GREENBLATT, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I've seen press that always tries to say Donald Trump's silence or his kind of words used is an instruction to do something bad. I don't buy it.

BASH: Jason Greenblatt has been one of Donald Trump's lawyers for decades.


D. TRUMP: I've had many, many friends over the years Orthodox. Maybe I could get Jason Greenblatt down here.

JASON GREENBLATT: I worked for him for 23 years and I saw time and time again how he wasn't antisemitic.

BASH: He points to Trump's actions on Israel, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and spearheading the Abraham Accords.


D. TRUMP: Israel is a sovereign nation.


BASH: But what about Trump's refusal to condemn antisemitic attacks on Julia Ioffe.


D. TRUMP: And I heard the article was nasty.


JASON GREENBLATT: Yes. I can't explain it.

BASH: Did you feel a special responsibility to go to him when you saw those things happening?


BASH: Can you give me an example?

JASON GREENBLATT: The David Duke thing during the campaign.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

D. TRUMP: Well just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke. OK? I --


JASON GREENBLATT: I saw what was happening, I guess as a result of Jake's interview and I said, look this is what's happening. Here's what David Duke actually said. Do you stand for this? And he said absolutely not, so he dictated a condemnation.

BASH: And why did you think he didn't get it in the moment?

JASON GREENBLATT: Not everybody knows David Duke as silly as that sounds, but maybe he didn't understand what was being asked of him, very hard to say.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT: The reason why his statement still hit people so hard, it's because pulling that out of him required so much effort. Donald Trump is complicated. He has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. He has Jewish grandchildren. There has never been a president in the history of the republic, as personally closest to the Jewish people as Donald Trump. And things like the Abraham Accords, these were really important, and yet at the same time when asked to call out white supremacists.


D. TRUMP: Proud boys, stand back and stand-by --


JONATHAN GREENBLATT: And when he stood there days after Charlottesville and said --


D. TRUMP: But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONATHAN GREENBLATT: The Neo-Nazis' new exactly what he meant. His attitude, his language, the choices that he made ushered in this hate.


D. TRUMP: Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.


BASH: So Jason Greenblatt, he argues that if you read all of the remarks in that Charlottesville press conference. He did condemn the Neo-Nazis and the white supremacists.


D. TRUMP: And I'm not talking about the Neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT: If Donald Trump convincingly, consistently, clearly called out the extremists and the anti-Semites, it wouldn't even matter what he said at that moment.

BASH: The statistics speak volumes. From 2001 until 2015, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. were declining and then in 2016 a 30 percent spike. In 2017, a 57 percent increase, the largest since the ADL began tracking this. That summer the Charlottesville riot.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Donald Trump didn't invent antisemitism.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT: The thing that made his presidency so frightening in this respect, is how he normalized prejudice.


D. TRUMP: "Kunflu"(ph), yes.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT: It augers in environments where prejudice is permissible.

BASH: And one of those environments, the internet.

SEGAL: This is it.

BASH: That part of the story when we come back.



BASH: It's incredible. (PIANO MUSIC)

BASH: It's hard to believe someone like that, who plays so beautifully, plays music that makes people feel good can be so evil.

DAVID GRAPILON, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Yep. He was truly gifted but rather than giving a gift, he, kind of, gave a curse.


UNKNOWN: Breaking news just in to CNN, the Sheriff's Office in San Diego County has confirmed one man has been detained for questioning in connection with a shooting incident at a synagogue. Again this is --


(JONATHAN MORALES, POWAY CHABAD SYNAGOGUE MEMBER): We were just beginning the fifth reading the torah portion. It was interrupted by a series of gunshots.

BASH: Jonathan Morales (ph) was praying in the back of the Chabad of Poway in Southern California.


BASH: It was the last night of Passover, April 2019. How close were you to the bullets coming into this sanctuary?

(MORALES): Less than 10 feet away from bullets and shrapnel.

BASH: Morales (ph), a Border Patrol agent, crawled on the floor to grab a gun he knew the rabbi had hidden in case of emergency. He chased the gunman out of the synagogue, firing at him as he ran to his car to escape.

(MORALES): He ducked under the steering wheel and that's when he pressed his foot on the gas pedal and took off.

BASH: The scene was gruesome. One congregant, Lori Gilbert-Kay (ph) was dead and three others including an eight year old injured. Minutes after he fled that scene, the gunman called 911 himself.


UNKNOWN: I opened fire at a synagogue. I think I killed some people.


GRAPILON: He wanted essentially to be caught.

BASH: Why?

GRAPILON: I think he wanted a forum. BASH: A forum for his antisemitic rage says Deputy District Attorney

David Grapilon. In a hate-filled rambling manifesto, he wrote that Jews, quote, "deserve nothing but hell" and that he wanted to be the one to quote, "send them there".

GRAPILON: At no time did he ever express any regret for what he did. In fact in jail, one of the deputies found one of the slippers and on the sole of where your -- your heel would be in pencil was a Star of David on his heel.

BASH: He put a Star of David on the sole of his shoe so he could step on it.


BASH: The 19 year old was radicalized online.

GRAPILON: We had hundreds of images that he had downloaded from the internet, anything from antisemitism to celebrations of Nazis, Hitler.

BASH: What do you think pushed him over the edge?

GRAPILON: The Christchurch shooting.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Police in the city of Christchurch responding.


BASH: Responding to an active shooter at a New Zealand mosque who was live streaming his killing spree and posting his manifesto online.

SEGAL: It provided the blueprint on how to do it again. This is not outside of the box anymore. This is standard operating procedure for anti-Semites and extremists.

(DAMION PATTON, FORMER GANG MEMBER): Their recruiting is pretty sophisticated.

BASH: Recruitment into the world of hate is something Damion Patton (ph) understands well.

(PATTON): And this is ultimately where I was recruited into gangs.

BASH: Right here?

(PATTON): Right here.

BASH: It was the 1980s. Patton (ph) was a runaway, homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.

(PATTON): How the skinheads approached me was really with a business card. A business card is reserved for people who are successful, for people who are in business.

BASH: So you got very successful.

(PATTON): Very successful.

BASH: I want to be like that.

(PATTON): Exactly. That's how it all started. It had nothing to do with ideology in the beginning. It had everything to do with wanting to be like them and wanting out of my bad situation.

BASH: He came from a broken home. A single mom, she was Jewish.

(PATTON): The part that probably resonated with me in their message was, I was angry and so antisemitism was really saying I was "anti-my- family".

BASH: Patton (ph) became a skinhead. The movement which erupted across the U.S. in the '80s with violent attacks and murders, often targeting Jews. He rose in the ranks becoming a recruiter himself. Patton (ph) says these days, it's easier than ever to lure people in.

(PATTON): These white supremacists are sitting at home today, looking for the vulnerable online. You can be on 1,000 street corners at once now and that's the big difference.

BASH: And there's no escaping it. A recent study showed there was antisemitism on every social platform.

SEGAL: Part of what they're trying to do to attract people to their hate is to use, almost stylistic type of imagery and memes. And so here, hey look everybody, it's the midnight Jew crew making hate crimes great again. Basically blaming Jews for falsely creating antisemitic incidents to get sympathies essentially.

BASH: A new tactic, live streaming confrontation like here when a white supremacist goes after a Jewish man.

SEGAL: Many of these viewers are engaging in realtime.

BASH: Watch the Jew squirm.

SEGAL: Watch the Jew squirm.

BASH: "F" the Jews.

SEGAL: Exactly. They are actually, in many cases, telling the folks on the ground what they should do, and if you notice there's a donate button. So the more that he say, curses out a bystander, the more money will be -- will be given. And this is again why it's so concerning, because we've seen people live stream their actual attacks, their shootings. Because they also anticipate that people will watch them, go on the extremist journey with them --


BASH (voiceover): Like the Poway shooter did. The Jewish community there is still trying to heal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of there as a reminder and a memory of

what happened.

BASH (on camera): To never ever forget?


BASH (voiceover): Which is why their current rabbi, Mendel Goldstein, invited us in, the first television media allowed inside the sanctuary since the deadly shooting.

MENDEL GOLDSTEIN, RABBI OF CHABAD OF POWAY: Judaism teaches us that we will continue growing, that whenever challenged with darkness and evil, we will fight back with lights and kindness and goodness.

BASH (voiceover): Which is not easy during a deadly pandemic, when haters are looking for someone to blame. That, when we come back.


BASH (voiceover): Spring 2020, Chicago like most cities in the U.S., was a ghost town, locked down by the pandemic. But not this secret location.

(on camera) So this is the command center?

(voiceover) Mike Masters is the CEO of the Secure Community Network. Its 24/7 command center is privately funded and staffed with veterans from the intelligence sector. Analysts monitor all the way down to the dark web for antisemitic threats.


MICHAEL MASTERS, CEO OF SECURE COMMUNITY NETWORK: We saw a spike during COVID. Our duty desk started registering a significant increase and proliferation of antisemitism in the online space.

BASH (voiceover): That desk has never been seen on national television until now.

MASTERS: What you're looking at here, all those blue dots represent a Jewish facility. And then the red paddles represent potential risk events, where there's a congruence of the risk event in the institution, that's when we're getting an alert, that's when our team of analysts will start to go to work.

PAUL ABBATE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: We work with them day in and day out, really 24/7.

BASH (on camera): What does their command center do that the FBI can't?

ABBATE: They give us a different flow of information that we might not otherwise have.

MASTERS: This gives you a sense of what they're pulling. BASH (voiceover): Masters showed us an example of a potential attack they prevented.

(on camera) What this person is describing, in great gruesome detail, is a violent attack against Jews.

MASTERS: Pulling a pink mist into the air until I hear the police outside. It's vile. They've been doing it since the beginning of time, but certainly we've seen an uptick in this since COVID.

BASH (voiceover): So, did the Anti-Defamation League.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: COVID was a perfect storm for prejudice in many ways.

OREN SEGAL, VICE PRESIDENT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE'S CENTER OF EXTREMISM: What extremists and antisemites did was try to hack into or jump into Zoom calls, and make people feel scared. And so, this was just using an age-old hatred, but a new technology in order to spread that, Zoom bombing. So, as people were spending more time online, especially younger people, they realized this was an opportunity to reach out in different ways.

BASH (voiceover): Including on popular gaming platforms for young children. Parents, take note.

DANIEL KELLY, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY, ADL: This is the defaced synagogue. It looks like can be so many --

BASH (voiceover): Antisemitism is rampant in the gaming world says Daniel Kelly, the director of the Center for Technology and Society at the ADL.

KELLY: In this experience, you have a swastika and the Iron Cross here. We also have people who are setting up these kinds of Minecraft servers and creating concentration camp reenactments, doing all sorts of hateful things, like going around killing the villagers.

BASH (voiceover): An age-old trope also reemerged with COVID. The conspiracy theory that Jews are responsible for disease.

GREENBLATT: People First said that COVID was some bioweapon developed by Jews. Then, they blame Orthodox Jewish communities for being singularly responsible for spreading COVID. Then, they claimed after Pfizer and Regeneron and other companies were coming up with these medical interventions and vaccines, that the Jews were doing it in order to profit off of the virus.

DEBORAH LIPSTADT, PROFESSOR OF MODERN JEWISH HISTORY AND HOLOCAUST STUDIES, EMORY UNIVERSITY: If COVID-19 had happened prior to the internet, people would have made the same charges, but they wouldn't have ignited the way they do.

BASH (voiceover): And as people came out of isolation, it continued to spread offline. Fliers left on doorsteps blaming COVID on the Jews, or well-known people using the Holocaust to advance the anti-mask and anti-vaxx cause.

ROBERT KENNEDY, JR., ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER AND ANTI-VAXXER: Even in Hitler's Germany, you could -- you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you can hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did.

BASH (voiceover): Robert Kennedy, Jr. eventually apologized, but the genie was out of the bottle.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star. They were put in trains and taken to gas chambers.

LIPSTADT: The use of the Holocaust, people walking around with yellow stars or yellow masks, or things like that, to compare that COVID is a form of Holocaust distortion. It's degrading of history.

BASH (voiceover): When we come back, a new growing form of antisemitism from the political left.



BASH (voiceover): On the SUNY New Paltz campus, an hour and a half north of Manhattan, third year student Cassie Blattner (PH) felt she fit right in.

CASSIE BLATTNER, SUNY STUDENT: We have a really good political science program that drew me there, and I love the vibes of the town, super progressive as well.

BASH (voiceover): But in 2021, she says, she was kicked out of a group called New Paltz Accountability or NPA, a group she co-founded for survivors of sexual assault. Why? Because she shared a post on Instagram about being a Zionist.

BLATTNER: They said that Jews are indigenous to Israel and that you can't colonize the land of which you're indigenous to.

BASH (on camera): What happened after that post?

BLATTNER: One of the founding members of NPA said, so you don't think Palestinians are being oppressed? But I have no animosity towards Palestinians. Another member sent this horrible text me in the NPA group chat, accusing me of being an oppressor. He told me that because I'm a Zionist, that I condone violence against Palestinians, and just made all these uncalled-for assumptions.

BASH (voiceover): Assumptions that human rights lawyer Alyza Lewin calls contemporary antisemitism.

ALYZA LEWIN, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: People today have a very difficult time understanding what Zionism is. They don't realize that Judaism is not just a religion, that Judaism also has this sense of Jewish peoplehood, were this ethno religion, right? The Jews share a common history, a common ancestry, and that history and that ancestry is completely rooted in the land of Israel. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. They may be very critical as a matter of fact of the current government of Israel. They may be very pro-Palestinian human rights, it makes no difference. They're considered pariahs.

BASH (on camera): They accused you of causing sexual violence against others?

BLATTNER: They did. So, they told me that because I'm a Zionist, that that means I'm an oppressor. And that means that I am not against all forms of oppression, which means that I'm not against sexual violence.


BASH (voiceover): This was posted on NPA's Instagram account, "The origins of sexual violence are rooted in colonialism. Being against sexual violence but indifferent to colonialism are conflicting ideologies. Justifying the occupation of Palestine in any way condones the violence used to acquire the land. This does not mean we do not support survivors or students with different political beliefs."

LEWIN: The language of the left fighting for the political, racial, and social justice, unfortunately, sometimes I'll say inadvertently, is creating an atmosphere that is, instead of promoting true inclusivity and acceptance of diversity, it's promoting a perspective that is creating an environment that is hostile towards Jews.

JILL JACOBS, RABBI AND CEO OF T'RUAH: A lot of times when people talk about Zionism or anti-Zionism, they don't take the next step of saying, well, what does somebody actually mean by that?

BASH (voiceover): Rabbi Jill Jacobs runs a progressive Jewish organization, T'ruah. She tries to educate fellow liberals to prevent so-called anti-Zionism from devolving into antisemitism.

JACOBS: One can criticize Israeli policy, one can even make criticisms that are very hard for many Jews to hear or that one doesn't agree with. When it crosses the line into antisemitism is when you either use classic antisemitic tropes, so things like Jews having too much power, Zionist controlling the world, Jews wanting money, or when you hear things like, well, today's Jews aren't the real Jews, they were just descended from European converts. So, that's antisemitism.

BASH (voiceover): Harassment that Blattner experienced at SUNY New Paltz is part of a trend, rising antisemitism in various forms on college campuses across the U.S. Lewin is president of the Brandeis Center, which provides legal representation to victims of antisemitism on college campuses.

LEWIN: There's greater demand than our capacity to provide and meet the demand at this moment.

GREENBLATT: We've seen incidents at Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Michigan, Columbia, Tufts, Harvard, and the list goes on.

BASH (voiceover): The Palestinian cause is a prominent one among progressives right now. And those voices have big megaphones at universities.

JACOBS: When I was on campus, it was Free Tibet, why Tibet? Had anybody been to Tibet? Not necessarily, and it's still not free. But that was the issue of the moment. And it is true that Palestine is the issue of the moment. And that's not to discount it, the Palestinians should be free. There's a lot of factors that go into why Palestinian activism is so prominent on college campuses. And there certainly is an antisemitic element in there, but it's not the only or even the primary element.

BASH (voiceover): Experts across the board caution antisemitism is growing on the left, but it is not equivalent to hate from the right.

JACOBS: I'm certainly more terrified of the right of people who are white nationalists, who are armed, who have a history of walking into synagogues and opening fire. And on the left, it is more in the discourse.

GREENBLATT: So, on the extreme right, they are the tornado that will tear apart your house and kill everyone inside in an instant. The far- left is like climate change, slowly but surely, the temperature is rising. Some people deny it, then some people say we can adapt to it, but suddenly it reaches the point, the temperatures become so inhospitable that people can no longer live there.

BASH (voiceover): At SUNY New Paltz, Blattner's situation grew serious when a friend saw threatening posts seemingly directed at her on the social media platform Yik Yak.

BLATTNER: People were saying, if you see the Zionist, spit on her. He said that he saw death threats, and I called my dad and he came and he picked me up at like 3:00 in the morning.

BASH (voiceover): She no longer felt safe going to classes. The President of SUNY New Paltz did send this email to the campus community condemning antisemitism in its many forms, but for Blattner, it wasn't enough. In June, Lewin filed a formal complaint on behalf of Blattner and another New Paltz student with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

LEWIN: The universities have an obligation to make sure that all of their students have equal access to all of those educational opportunities.

BASH (voiceover): SUNY New Paltz declined to speak with us on camera, and the students who Cassie says kicked her out of the club, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. And in a text with Blattner claimed they are not antisemitic. The university did give us a statement saying they've provided support and resources to, quote, those impacted by the events of the past year. They said they worked with their Jewish students and staff to support them and address antisemitism. And they underscored as well that they support the free exchange of ideas under the First Amendment.


(on camera) What did it feel like being kicked out of a group that you started because of a trauma that you experienced?

BLATTNER: I feel like I'm having a bit of an identity crisis because I've been feeling like I had to decide if I was more a survivor of sexual violence or if I was feeling more Jewish that day because they wanted me to choose between the two.

BASH (voiceover): Coming up, how to stop the hate.

DAMIEN PATTON, FOUNDER, BANJO: Social media companies were the great disruptors 10 years ago. They needed to be disrupted today.



LIPSTADT: I, Deborah Lipstadt --

HARRIS: -- do solemnly affirm --

BASH (voiceover): May 24th, 2022, a historic moment at the White House.

HARRIS: -- Constitution of the United States.

LIPSTADT: I was overwhelmed.

BASH (voiceover): Deborah Lipstadt sworn in as special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism.

HARRIS: So, help me, God.

LIPSTADT: So, help me, God.

BASH (voiceover): An Ambassador-levels post for the first time.


LIPSTADT: The leadership of this country recognizes that this is a serious issue.

BASH (on camera): And what does it say that this position even exists?

LIPSTADT: It's the good news and the bad news. The good news that it does exist. The bad news is that we need it. It's sort of like some sort of cure for a terrible disease.

BASH (voiceover): A cure evermore elusive, especially online. A recent report found five major social media companies took no action to remove 84 percent of antisemitic posts.

SEGAL: Sometimes they respond and they remove content, other times they don't. I don't think they are ahead of the curve. I don't want to suggest that some of these larger platforms are doing nothing. But it's not unreasonable for users to expect them to be doing more.

PATTON: The first way we're going to start doing this, we got to set achievable goals.

BASH (voiceover): Damien Patton, once a skinhead, who recruited people on the streets is now working on technology to curb antisemitism online.

PATTON: Social media companies were the great disruptors 10 years ago, they needed to be disrupted today.

BASH (voiceover): Meanwhile, law enforcement is focused on disrupting attacks from this rising hate. And for the ones they can't prevent, training for how to respond. Several organizations including the Secure Community Network, travel to synagogues around the country helping congregants prepare for a potential attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At Beth Israel Congregation, there's been an ongoing hostage situation.

BASH (voiceover): It's training the Colleyville hostages credit with saving their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is really teach us how to survive. (INAUDIBLE) it's a big room. We all are going to get locked up by the door. Where are you going to go?

CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, RABBI, BETH ISRAEL CONGREGATION: I remembered my training. And I told the guys to run. And I threw the chair.

JEFF COHEN, COLLEYVILLE SYNAGOGUE HOSTAGE: When you walk into a room, where are the exits?

BASH (on camera): You do that?

COHEN: Always.

BASH: Even before what happened here?

COHEN: I did it before, but now it's vigilance.

OK, folks, exercise over.

BASH (voiceover): But there needs to be another solution. What is it? How do we stop this rise in antisemitism?

LIPSTADT: Understanding, recognition, condemnation, and action. Words are easy, but it's to act on it, to educate.

RUTH STEINFELD, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The Nazis came into our house and proceeded to break everything we owned.

BASH (voiceover): It's something Holocaust survivor Ruth Steinfeld (PH) now dedicates her life to.

STEINFELD: It's all we can do is we can teach people.

If I can leave you with just one --

BASH: She tells her story frequently to students.

STEINFELD: Forgive, accept, but talk about it.

It's so important for us to teach it to other people for the sole reason albeit should never happen again.

BASH (voiceover): All the more important when less than half the states in the U.S. mandate Holocaust education in school.

(on camera) What does it matter that there's an increasing lack of understanding or education about the Holocaust?

LIPSTADT: It matters because this is a plague. You've got to understand how little things grow into bigger things. How people are taught to hate.

GREENBLATT: Antisemitism is often described as the canary in the coal mine. It is an indication of a kind of rot that eventually consumes everything.

BASH (voiceover): For generations, many Jews responded to rising antisemitism by retreating, staying quiet. But those we talked to, even victims of hate, say no, do the opposite.

COHEN: We have that friend's crazy uncle who's a blatant racist or antisemite, and they'll apologize for him, and we'll all roll our eyes, and we let it go. That's not what we need to do. Letting things go is a problem.

GREENBLATT: I realized that people who have strange, bad, crazy misconceptions about Jews, when you talk to them, and they meet you, and they realize that those misconceptions are wrong, that's how you build bridges and correct these historical prejudices.

LIPSTADT: I wear a Jewish star, something I've only started to do recently.

BASH (on camera): Why is that?

LIPSTADT: I'm proud of who I am. With the rise of antisemitism, I wanted to say, here I am. This is who I am.

BASH (voiceover): Standing up to the oldest hate, educating and never forgetting.