The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU) enjoys bragging about its success in obtaining a record level of taxpayer funds for Jewish schools and shuls via U.S. Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
“As one of the groups that spearheaded the creation of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, we are pleased so many schools and shuls in our communities will be able to make their students and members safe,” Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy, said in a June statement. “The concern about attacks, including a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic incidents and threats, is the very reason OU Advocacy and its partners have advocated so ardently to raise this critical funding to its now record level.”
To date in 2016, Congress had allocated $175 million to the NSGP, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fund administered by FEMA. The stated purpose of the program is to provide “support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack.” Security enhancements include metal detectors, bulletproof windows and bombproof doors, according to the article. Currently, each grant allocation is approximately $75,000; however, rules of the grant — such as competitive bidding for improvement contracts — are not evident.
A Jewish Forward article reported that among 995 grants distributed through the national program from 2007 to 2010, 74 percent (734) went to Jewish organizations. In 2011, Jewish groups were the big winners again, receiving 81% of those awards. Jews make up about 2% of the U.S. population.
To quote the Forward:
Examining the grants program provides a window into Jewish organizational and political power. It is this power that allowed a small community to create and maintain a government program tailored specifically for its needs and catering almost exclusively to its members. Lobbying for the program was led by United Jewish Communities, now known as the Jewish Federations of North America.
The bulk of the article goes on to describe quibbling and whining within the greater Jewish community over which sects get the largess, with reform Jews getting the short end of the stick.
When the Forward examined the grants distributed to Jewish institutions that have a specific religious affiliation, it found that about two-thirds went to Orthodox synagogues and day schools, even though only about one in 10 American Jews is Orthodox.
In a press release, the Orthodox Union — the group that is best known for its kosher certification service signified on products by a circled-U symbol (Ⓤ) and for covering up the pedophilia practices among its leadership — concluded its self-congratulatory statement with a reminder of how it championed a new law that provides taxpayer funding in New York for security guards at private Orthodox schools:
OU Advocacy spearheads efforts to keep our schools and shuls safe. In recent years, OUA’s achievements include paving the passage of a New York City law that funds security guards at non-public schools, creating funding vehicles for security in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and initiating and growing the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which has given $175 million in grants to non-profit institutions including 1,000+ Jewish schools and shuls.
Of course, the funding might be justified if one can show truth in Diament’s claim that there is a “disturbing increase in anti-Semitic incidents and threats.” So enters the Anti Defamation League (ADL), which some describe as a Jewish domestic terror organization, with claims that anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. Though year-over-year “incident” rates fell in the predominant states of California and New York between 2014 and 2015, anti-Semitism is always “on the rise” somewhere. If it wasn’t, the ADL would conceivably lose its relevance, political power and funding.
Case in point: Massachusetts. New England had just six incidents in 2014, then 18 incidents in 2015 and now 24 during the first six months of 2016. At this rate, the ADL says incidents could total 50 by the end of the year. Yet, nationally, the figures are somewhat flat. There was only a 3 percent increase between 2014 and 2015, from 912 to 941. Among these, less than 6 percent was categorized as an assault. More than half of these “incidents” were “harassment and threats” and the remaining amount “vandalism.”
The Jewish Advocate provides readers with some helpful examples of “incidents.”
In Swampscott, congregants discovered heart-shaped Palestinian flag stickers on the Atlantic Avenue sign for Congregation Shirat Hayam on June 12.
“As small as the stickers are, they were put on an American Jewish synagogue,” noted Rabbi Michael Ragozin, in a written statement. “In attacking Congregation Shirat Hayam, the perpetrator substituted American Jews for the State of Israel. This linkage matches the modern definitions of anti-Semitism which include, ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’”
Swampscott Police are investigating the incident and have removed the stickers.
On June 16, congregants, rabbis from neighboring communities and residents lined up to throw water on the Shirat Hayam sign, representing a spiritual cleansing for the community.
In Hopkinton, a homeowner discovered a swastika and the word “Jew” scrawled in orange paint on a set of traffic signs on North Mill Streeton June 16. While Hopkinton Police were investigating the incidents, they discovered a “nonreligious biased profane word,” written in similar paint on a driveway on Ash Street, according to a police statement.
“The Hopkinton Police will have zero tolerance for this type of offensive behavior,” Police Chief Ed Lee noted in a statement. Police said they do not believe the anti-Semitic incidents were directed at any specific person.
In Cranston, R.I., a woman discovered spray-painted swastikas and hateful language on an asphalt walkway at Cranston Stadium on May 23. At least four swastikas were spray-painted onto the walkway that connects the football field to an area with tennis and basketball courts, according to Anthony Liberatore, parks and recreation director.
The letters, “SS” and “KKK,” and the phrases, “I hate Arabs” and “I hate Jews,” were also found.
Police Chief Michael Winquist said the police were investigating the graffiti as a hate crime.
The anti-Semitic graffiti came just days after someone defaced a sign for the Kollel Center for Jewish Studies outside a synagogue in Pawtucket, R.I.
Comparatively, isolated tagging incidents such as stickers and spray paint would not be listed actionable incidents. However, it appears that when such incidents involve either vague or direct references to the Jewish community, they are cataloged by special interest groups like the ADL and highlighted as needed, typically to obtain special privileges or funding. In fact, as Winter Watch previously published, police investigations have revealed that sometimes these incidents are committed by Jewish persons themselves.