Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday issued a stark warning about the rise in antisemitic hate American Jews have faced since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Schumer previewed his address scheduled for Wednesday morning, writing, “Today, too many Americans are exploiting arguments against Israel and leaping toward a virulent antisemitism. The normalization and intensifying of this rise in hate is the danger many Jewish people fear most.”
“The solidarity that Jewish Americans initially received from our fellow citizens in the aftermath of Oct. 7 has since waned, drowned out by other, more disturbing voices, even from some we considered allies, while hate crimes against Jews have skyrocketed,” he wrote.
Schumer announced Tuesday evening that he planned to deliver a “major” address on antisemitism on Wednesday.
“Antisemitism is a crisis in the country. As the highest-ranking Jewish elected official, I feel compelled to speak out about it. I’ll be giving a major address on it tomorrow,” he wrote in the statement Tuesday.
In his op-ed Wednesday, Schumer reflected on the pain he felt as a descendent of Holocaust survivors and of others who did not make it out of Eastern Europe, noting when he heard stories of Jews being gunned down by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, “it struck me on a deeply personal level.”
“When I was a boy, I learned what happened when the Nazis invaded my family’s town in Ukraine. The Nazis ordered my great-grandmother to gather her extended family on the porch of her home. When the Nazis told her to come with them, she refused, and they gunned her down, along with 30 members of her family, from 85 years old to 3 months old,” Schumer wrote.
“Most Jewish Americans have similar stories — stories we learned at a young age, and that will stay imprinted on our hearts for as long as we live,” he added.
Schumer said he felt compelled to speak out because, he said, the recent rise in antisemitism, “for many Jewish people today … is more than a crisis — it’s a five-alarm fire.”
“That’s why I feel compelled to speak out,” he wrote, “especially considering the growing disparity between how Jewish people understand the rise of antisemitism, and how many of my non-Jewish friends regard it.”
Schumer underscored the difference between being critical of Israel’s government — which he noted he, too, has been and which he said is not inherently antisemitic — and denying Jews’ right to a state of their own, describing that as “a glaring example of that double standard Jewish Americans so fiercely object to.”
“When criticism against Israel is allowed to cross over into something different — into a denial of a Jewish state in any form, into open calls for the very destruction of Israel, while at the same time the self-determination of other peoples is exalted — that is an example of the discriminatory double standard Jewish people have always found so hurtful. And we worry about what could come next,” he wrote.
Schumer’s warning comes amid an increase in hate crimes against Jewish Americans.
In the two weeks after the attack on Oct. 7, the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 388 percent increase in antisemitic incidents from the same period the previous year.
In Schumer’s home state, New York City saw a 214-percent spike in reported hate crimes against Jews last month compared to October 2022, according to the city’s crime statistics.
A total of 101 hate crimes were reported last month in New York City, 69 of which were targeted at Jews. Other hate crimes reported last month included eight anti-Muslim incidents, seven incidents motivated by sexual orientation, and four anti-Black incidents.
“I implore every person and every community and every institution to stand with Jewish Americans, and to denounce antisemitism in all of its forms,” Schumer wrote. “Americans are stewards of the flames of liberty, tolerance and equality that warm our melting pot and make it possible for Jewish Americans to prosper alongside Palestinian Americans as well as every other immigrant group.”