On Monday, the JCC Association of North America reported that 11 Jewish community centers had received call-in bomb threats that resulted in evacuations. This is in addition to a total of 68 bomb threats at 53 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province — just over the course of three days in January. Luckily, they all turned out to be hoaxes, but that doesn't make them any less scary. So who's behind the Jewish community center threats? No one really knows right now.
Ryan Lenz, who works with the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors hate crimes in the country said they haven't figured it out yet. "We don't know who's behind these threats," he told NBC News. "We don't know if groups are organizing them. We do know they're in line with an increase in hate incidents and bias incidents over the last three months."
What they also know is that the number of threats is "unprecedented," according to Heidi Beirich, who also works for the SPLC. She told The Huffington Post,
This threatens an entire community. It’s very scary. You’re terrorizing whole families and children. There are usually day care centers that serve an entire population in the area. These threats can make it impossible for those communities to function normally.
The JCC Association of North America issued a statement on Monday saying, "We are in regular communication with the FBI, which is investigating these threats, to ensure the FBI has the most updated information. We hope to hear updates from the FBI on progress very soon." The organization added that it is also "coordinating updated security trainings for JCC executives and staff, to ensure that our community of professionals across the country is prepared with critical tools, resources and contacts."
On Tuesday, Trump — who had up until this week largely remained silent on the issue — finally spoke out. "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," he said, during a visit to the National Museum of African American Museum and Culture. For many in the Jewish community, though, the statement was not enough — and came a little too late. Anti-Semitic groups and white nationalists supported Trump throughout his campaign, and though the bump in bomb threats to Jewish community centers, in addition to other hate crimes against other minority groups, have yet to be connected, some believe they line up.
Trump's reluctance to denounce those supporters, paired with his vague remarks "denouncing" hate might not be enough for the Jewish community, which is being terrorized by unidentified individuals and groups with these called in threats. Hopefully law enforcement agencies will figure out who is responsible for the threats before someone actually gets hurt.