Hate crimes

Do a Jewish Teenager's Bomb Threats Against Jews Count As Hate Crimes?

An Israeli Jew is accused of making frightening phone calls that were attributed to a post-Trump rise in anti-Semitism.



Today Israeli police revealed the arrest of a Jewish teenager in connection with bogus bomb threats that have rattled Jewish communities across the United States in recent months. The unnamed 18-year-old, who was identified with help from the FBI, is a dual citizen of Israel and the United States who lives in the Ashkelon area. "Investigating hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI," a bureau spokeswoman said, "and we will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship."

If the reference to "hate crimes" strikes you as strange in the context of a Jew's threats against fellow Jews, that is probably because you are under the impression that hate crimes are defined by hate. Not so. Under federal law, a person who injures or attempts to injure someone "because of" the victim's "actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin" is guilty of a hate crime, regardless of his motive. The definition even includes people who assault coreligionists based on doctrinal disagreements, as in the case of the Amish beard cutters.

The motives of the Israeli-American bomb threat suspect, whom police blame for dozens of frightening phone calls received by JCCs and other Jewish institutions in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, remain mysterious. Maybe he is a chaos-loving prankster. Maybe he is a self-hating Jew. Maybe he is a Trump-hating Jew, deliberately reinforcing the claim that the president's election has encouraged a rise in anti-Semitic speech and acts. As far has the federal hate crime statute goes, it does not matter, although the last possibility would lend credibility to Trump's widely derided suggestion that the aim of the bomb threats might be "to make people…look bad."

Then again, since there were no actual bombs, the phone calls may not qualify as attempts to cause "bodily injury," which "does not include solely emotional or psychological harm to the victim." Other federal laws, such as 18 USC 875 (threatening interstate communications) and 18 USC 2333b (terrorist threats), would seem to be a closer fit. In any case, this guy (assuming he is guilty) should be punished for the actual wrongs he did to others, as opposed to his religion-based target selection.

It's not clear whether the suspect will be extradited. Although the effects of his alleged crimes were felt mainly in the United States, the communications were initiated in Israel. Ha'aretz reports that "police are accusing the suspect of extortion through threats and of false reporting sowing panic." The newspaper says "investigators are attempting to determine if he actually received money in connection with any of the threats attributed to him."

According to the Israeli police, "The investigation began in several countries simultaneously after dozens of threatening calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings that caused panic and disrupted events and activities in various organizations." The police says the suspect used "advanced camouflage technologies" to disguise the source of his calls, which he made over the internet using voice-distorting software and other people's WiFi connections.

Ha'aretz quotes one of the calls: "It's a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag….In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There's a lot of shrapnel. There's going to be a bloodbath that's going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go."

Addendum: The teenager's lawyer says he has had a brain tumor since the age of 14, which may have affected his behavior. But according to the Times, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, thinks "the threats attributed to the Israeli teenager…should still be considered acts of anti-Semitism," even if the perpetrator is not anti-Semitic. "The motive may have been unclear, but the impact was crystal clear," Greenblatt told the Times. "These were acts that terrorized a community just because of their faith."

[Although Ha'aretz says the suspect is 19, the other reports say 18, so I have changed his age.]

NEXT: 4-Year-Old Brings Shell Casing to Preschool. Principal Suspends Him for 7 Days, Calls Child Services.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Self-hating Jews are the worst anti-Semites. Self-hating white people are SJW’s.

    1. Exhibit A: Karl Marx

    2. “Self-hating Jews are the worst anti-Semites. ”

      Jew-hating non Jews are almost as bad.

      1. Jew-hating non Jews

        I thought you were one of the one’s who preferred not to indict Islam as a whole?

        1. “I thought you were one of the one’s who preferred not to indict Islam as a whole?”

          Like the legal systems of the entire western world. Like it or not, people commit crimes. Indicting ‘Islam as a whole’ is a non-starter, though it sounds like a fine make-work project for our needy lawyers.

  2. A progressive extremist that apparently held extreme nonchalance about the stupendous level of debt a hobby of this sort is prone to accrue especially after 100 instances of deploying it.

    The perplexing and vast disregard of the reality of outcomes is probably the most crime-mimicking aspect of the thing.

    1. Sure seems like fake hate crimes outnumber real ones.

    2. Sure seems like fake hate crimes outnumber real ones.

      1. even squirrelz can see it

  3. “Well, I hated it!”

  4. Other federal laws, such as 18 USC 875 (threatening interstate communications) and 18 USC 2333b (terrorist threats), would seem to be a closer fit.

    What does that translate to in Israeli, Australian, or New Zealand penal code(s)? Or is Reason really playing the “Borders are like, a violation of human rights man!” card that hard and fast?

  5. “Under federal law, a person who injures or attempts to injure someone “because of” the victim’s “actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin” is guilty of a hate crime, regardless of his motive.”

    Hatred, or at the very least dislike of the victim’s race, colour etc is a motive. The word “because” is used to discuss motive:

    “I attacked him even though he was a Jew.” vs. “I attacked him because he was a Jew.”

    The distinction shouldn’t be beyond the grasp of any elementary school graduate.

    1. Ironically, saying “I attacked him because I hated him” does not, in itself, make it a hate crime.

      1. Saying “I attacked the Jew because I hate Jews,” would probably do the trick. The victim’s membership in a group leads him or her to be targeted. “Don’t take it personal,” the hate criminal might be overheard saying, “I just hate Jews, is all.”

        1. But what if I hate everybody, equally?

          1. Hope you got a good lawyer.

          2. But during National Brotherhood Week …

    2. “I attacked him even though he was a Jew.”

      I fail to see how this bars race as a motive. “I shot him even though one of his kind wasn’t worth the bullet.” Moreover, the fundamental idea is that motive is only one part of a trifecta that suggest guilt and not a standalone crime.

      1. If the attacker hates Jews and the victim was chosen because of his or her Jewishness, you’ve got a hate crime. If you disagree with this, you’ve yet to make a case to dispute it. Not one that I understand, in any case.

        1. You don’t have to hate Jews to make targeting a Jew a hate crime. The only thing necessary is that you targeted him *because* he was a Jew, no matter how you fell about them in general.

          1. I’m assuming that the attacker who sets out to victimize a Jew, and does so, has negative feelings about Jews, though I’m sure there may be cases, people being what they are, where this is not so. Tell it to the judge, and good luck is what I say.

  6. the putz sure went to a lot of trouble to do his threats.
    Now the question is,how will Israel prosecute this? Was it a violation of any Israeli laws? An “international crime”? AFAIK,Israel doesn’t extradite their citizens.

  7. Do You want to get good income at home? do you not know how to start earnings on Internet? there are some popular methods to earn huge income at your home, but when people try that, they bump into a scam so I thought i must share a verified and guaranteed way for free to earn a great sum of money at home. Anyone who is interested should read the given article…

    …………………………… https://www.24cashour.com

  8. Probably a stoner who will blame it on his bris…

  9. Color me shocked, SHOCKED that the bomb threats were by a person in the same group. Or the muslims that made up stories after the election of being attacked, who later admitted it was a hoax, or the black high schooler running for student president who sent himself racist texts, or the Jackie rape story that was false, or the Duke Lacross rape hoax, or….

    Yet when these stories come out, it’s front page on all the news, everywhere in my derpbook feed, and white people / men / anyone not a SJW approved group is responsible and everything must change! Then fucking silence after it’s found to be a sham.

  10. When I first heard about this I was “That’s probably a Jew carrying out a false flag operation.”

  11. The author is correct about the legal definition of “hate-crime”. BUT, the Amish beard-cutters’ hate-crime conviction was overturned. I’m not sure why, but I think it was because the victim was chosen because of a long-standing family feud, not according to his religion, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender-preference, sexual orientation, or disability.

    (I know this because I was actually friends with one of the beard-cutters.)

  12. hi there

  13. Testing

  14. Self hating Jews are a real thing.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.