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The FBI reaches out to Hasidic Jews to fight anti-Semitism – but the bureau has a history with Judaism

The FBI’s announcement in Yiddish encourages Hasidic or “super-Orthodox” Jews to report anti-Semitic cases. The Spencer Pratt / Getty Images FBI wants to hear from Hasidic, or “super-Orthodox” Jews. The hate crime unit said in both Yiddish and Hebrew the same as when it announced an announcement calling on Jews to report anti-Semitic cases in an outreach campaign launched in April 2021. .. Shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11 people. According to Matt Williams, director of the Orthodox Jewish Union, Hasidic Jews make up the overwhelming majority of Yiddish speakers in the United States. Working with this community poses unique challenges, as the Hasidic community can be isolated and often seeks to address issues from education to sexual assault without involving outsiders. .. As someone who wrote about the Jews and the FBI, I’m not surprised that the FBI now wants to tackle anti-Semitism. However, the FBI has a complex history with Jews. It’s a past suggestion that the FBI loved the idea of ​​Judaism as a religion, but not necessarily the American Jews themselves. The Cold War Hug Formally established in 1935, the FBI was designed to undertake domestic crime and surveillance. By the late 1940s, driven by the Cold War ideals, FBI Director J. Edgar Huber strengthened the image of the religious and moral United States, rather than the enemy atheistic and immoral Soviet Union. It was strategic to accept Judaism as a good, legal and American. In a statement prepared at a 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee hearing, Hoover called communism “evil work” and “a foreign cause of Christ and the Jewish religion.” He believed that the United States had a good moral foundation, a religious foundation, and that communism was based solely on human tort. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (right) was awarded a medal in 1953 for his efforts to combat communism in the United States. The Cold War can be triggered in other ways. It subtly referred to both God and democracy, implying that both were on the American side. The phrase also made it possible to promote what Hoover and others perceived as religious tolerance and inclusiveness in the United States, rather than merely emphasizing Christianity. Many Christians imagined Judaism as a pioneer of Christianity, so Judaism was able to signal diversity and democracy without appearing foreign. In fact, this was not about the reference to Judaism being explicitly Jewish, but about what people think it shares with Christianity, like the Ten Commandments. Meaning that. Anti-Semitic Prejudice However, there were complex issues with the FBI’s acceptance of Judaism. By the 1950s, American Jews had a long history with the political left, including the support of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, which the FBI saw as a threat. “Communists are, and will continue to be, a threat to freedom, democratic ideals, worship of God, and American way of life,” Hoover said in 1947. I told the meeting. A record that associates Jews with communism. According to documents from the American Jewish Committee during this period, the FBI estimated that 50% to 60% of US Communists were Jewish. These accusations and investigations have sometimes had devastating consequences. Jewish actor Philip Loeb was blacklisted by Hollywood, died of suicide after being investigated by the FBI, and was unable to work to help his son with a disability. He overdose barbiturates in a hotel room in New York. A few days later, the FBI revealed that he was a member of the Communist Party. The internal FBI’s work also showed assumptions about Jews and Communism and strategic sympathy for anti-Semitic prejudices. When an informant tells agent Jack Levin that all Jews are communists, Levin keeps it away from his written reports so that prejudice does not damage the informant’s credibility. I was instructed to do so. It didn’t seem to be related to the FBI that the bias meant that the informant might not be true. Visitors commemorate the first anniversary of the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images Today’s FBI isn’t much of the same organization as it was during the Cold War, but its sympathy for Judaism has a historic resonance. In 1958, a bomber dynamite Temple, the synagogue of Atlanta’s oldest Jewish congregation. The explosion did not kill anyone, but did cost at least US $ 100,000. President Eisenhower told Hoover to send the FBI for an investigation, and Hoover responded immediately, even if it might not have been under the jurisdiction of the FBI. It was an attack on the country, as Hoover saw the bombing as an attack on religion. With this history in mind, the Yiddish and Hebrew announcements seeking information from the Jewish religious community are not surprising, especially as some anti-Semitic attacks are taking place in religious spaces in the United States. .. To many, the shootings at Pittsburgh’s synagogue look like an attack on the United States, even against religion, as it is an attack on Judaism. Working on Hasidism, the most religious-looking American Jew, has become one way the FBI wants to thwart these attacks. [Explore the intersection of faith, politics, arts and culture. Sign up for This Week in Religion.]This article has been republished by The Conversation, a non-profit news site aimed at sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by Sarah Imhoff of Indiana University. Read more: American anti-Semitic scholars explain the symbol of hatred that exists during the US Capitol riots President Trump revives J. Edgar Huber’s exclusive playbook of this article We are benefiting and do not disclose relevant affiliations beyond our academic appointment.

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