How the 'No Hate. No Fear.' Marchers Are Fighting Anti-Semitism

"We're here because we have to play offense and defense against this growing hate in this country and in this world."


"Ten thousand," says the New York City cop, when I ask how many people the city's expecting at the No Hate. No Fear. Solidarity March, an event in protest of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, primarily against Orthodox Jews, in the New York City area. 

He can't yet know that an estimated 25,000 will show or that the march, from Foley Square in Lower Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, will be over capacity from the get-go. An hour before march time and the streets are packed solid, people wrapped in Israeli flags and carrying American flags, wearing Yankee caps and yarmulkes, carrying signs that read NO HATE NO FEAR and babies in bunting to keep out the kind of cold where you expect birds to drop from the sky, the kind of cold in which you don't normally see sixty-something women chattering outdoors about the HBO series Big Little Lies and men standing on a park bench drinking coffee and calling out, "Hey, you a reporter? He gives good quotes."

Nancy Rommelmann

Sure. Why are they here today?

"We're here because we have to play offense and defense against this growing hate in this country and in this world," says Ariel Nelson. "That means not just standing by and making sure our synagogues and our institutions are secure, but going out en masse and showing the world that we are not going to tolerate it."

"It" being the rise in hate crimes against Jews: 229 last year according to city officials, including a pair of gruesome incidents in December, the murder of four people in a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City, and a man with a machete storming a synagogue during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, 35 miles north of New York City. The two attacks got a lot of airtime, the others (some seen in a sickening compilation video), not so much. There are reasons to take some of those statistics with a grain of salt. Does Nelson, who works for a news organization, see the media downplaying the attacks?

"Yes," he says.

Does he have an opinion as to why?

"Jews aren't important," he says. "That's just the way of the world, and it's unfortunate."

"I had been under the view that antisemitism was mostly a thing of the past in the post-Holocaust era," says David Leit. "In recent months and years, my view has changed, and I think that antisemitism now requires a much more robust response. Whereas previously I thought that maybe some groups were overreacting to it, now I tend to agree more with Ariel, that if anything, we've been underreacting."

Which makes it easy, or easier, for people not immediately affected to see the attacks as just a thing happening in New York.

"Pittsburgh isn't New York," says Nelson. "Poway isn't New York."

"Paris isn't New York!" says Leit.

"And New York is where you would think it shouldn't happen," adds Nelson. "I mean, New York, there's lots of Jews here, it's the most pluralistic place on Earth, practically. You would think there would be, if anything, greater ability to get along. And my understanding is that the current New York police statistics [show] that half of the reported hate crimes [in 2019] are against Jews, which is shocking." 

Nancy Rommelmann

A drum boom starts from somewhere.

"There can be skepticism about marches, like, 'We're all going to get here, and we're going to chant,' and does it actually accomplish anything?" says Nelson. "In some respects, that's a fair criticism. But I think there also does need to be public displays of unity…whether you're Jewish or not Jewish, whether you're black or white, whether you're Muslim or Christian, we should all be here together today, to say, we're not going to tolerate it."

The people who are not going to tolerate it include a handful of young people singing a pop song in Hebrew as they walk amidst many thousands toward the bridge. Where are they from? 

"Israel!" say two 18-year-old girls at once. They're volunteering with the Jewish Agency for Israel, working with Jewish communities in Brooklyn. Have they noticed an escalation in violence in the five months they've been here? Yes, they say. 

"Honestly, I think we are better prepared in terms of, we know how it feels like to be under attack, to be alert all the time," says one. "But I don't think we have better tools to deal with terror attacks and anti-Semitism." 

"Now people understand how this situation in Israel is," says the other. "We experience it in Israel and now it's starting to be here and people feel it and now they actually will do something about it."

And then they go on singing, being joyful despite the knowledge that massacre might be coming for them. But then, what are the options?

Nancy Rommelmann

"I myself this week filled out an application for a gun permit," says David Katz, who's running for Congress from New York District 17 in Rockland County, which includes Monsey, where the machete attack occurred and where Katz grew up.

"I was taught to be worried about stuff like this, and then as I got older, I realized, it's not such a danger. Now it seems like it is a danger," he says. "There's more of a nervousness, and for myself––excuse my French––shit seems to be happening and I want to be prepared in the event there's a much larger conflagration. Does that make sense?"

Yes. During the Monsey attack, one of the Orthodox men picked up a table and attacked the assailant with that, which, granted, was impressive, but a gun would be a little more—

"Right," says Katz. "There was a celebration for a new Torah within a couple of days after that, and there were Jews with guns presenting weapons. I know there are plenty of people that have already been training with weapons, preparing."

How big of a shift is it for the Orthodox community to arm themselves? 

"Is the culture changing? That's a yes," he says. "Especially in younger people, at least. I think there's a change in thinking, like, 'there is a danger and we can't count on anyone to protect us in the moment.' Yes, police will come at some point. But in the moment, we are targets."

For which the targets are sometimes blamed, as in, if Jews had not formed a community in Monsey, or wherever, there would be no friction with those not of the community and thus no opportunity, no incubator per se, for hatred of Jews to grow. Which history tells us, over and over, is untrue. People can crochet hatred out of nothing. How do we fight a hatred that never seems to go away for good, that comes back every generation with a new virulence? With new people ready to embrace hate and justify what they do with it, and a world willing to watch and prevaricate? 

"Do we need to be shot dead in a synagogue for people to pay attention to the fact that our neighbors are being beat up?" asks Bari Weiss on-air with CNN, as she starts walking across the bridge. An opinion page editor at The New York Times and author of the recent book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism (and, full disclosure, a friend), Weiss has written heartbreakingly of the attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she made her bat mitzvah and where, in October 2018, a gunman entered yelling, "Death to all Jews!" and killed 11 people.

Not today, no death today, today is about believing we can make this about life, we have made it across the bridge to Cadman Plaza Park, where a young man enthusiastically approaches my friend and asks if he's been "tied" yet today. My friend, who's flown in from Austin, Texas, for the march, says no, and the young man wraps the leather tefillin up his arm, telling us at a rat-a-tat pace how overjoyed he is by the day, that we are all here together, he has my friend say a few words and then asks, "You're Jewish, yes?" My friend says he's not, he's Episcopalian, and the young man smiles and says, "Well, it's your bar mitzvah" and, after loosening the ties, walks toward the massive Brooklyn War Memorial, with its larger-than-life figures symbolizing victory and family, and on which in a few minutes Weiss will stand before thousands and explain why she is a Jew, and why we are here. She tells us, "We are the lamplighters, we are the ever-dying people that refuses to die. The people of Israel live now and forever, Am Yisrael Chai."

Nancy Rommelmann

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  1. Funny, but I don’t see a single black person in any of those photographs.

    Didn’t anyone hold a spot of Al Sharpton?

    1. We already know that Black Lives Matter. Now we need to be trained that Jewish Lives Matter.

      1. But, the question is: Do black lives matter more than Jewish lives?

        Tough call for NYC Democrats. When your grievance pyramid starts to turn on itself, every step you take lands you in a pile of shit.

        1. For NY Democrats, that’s a slam dunk. Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn (and not even hipster Brooklyn) aren’t particularly fashionable. No self-respecting NY Democrat is going to risk getting tarred a racist to protect them. Especially when they haven’t proven politically reliable.

          1. More blacks than Jews. The math is simple.

  2. Squad Goals!

  3. The fact is that the entire thing was hijacked by New York’s progressive establishment.

    They’ll keep saying it’s white supremacists and Trump supporters. Maybe it’s the same guys who attacked Jussie Smollett. The truth is that is it is not and they know it. But, protecting Orthodox Jews from violence really isn’t so much a priority for New York’s progressive establishment that they’d be willing to risk alienating participants in the the intersectional coalition.
    The attacks will continue (they already have this year). And the progressive establishment will continue to host marches and rallies telling the world how much they care about protecting the victims from the actually non-existent white supremacist threat in New York while making excuses for the actual perpetrators (e.g. “It’s anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism” or “You have to understand the frustration of POC at seeing their communities crowded out by insular outsiders.”).

    1. Unless Jews give more money to the DNC, the attacks will continue or get worse. Its just how Socialists run protection rackets.

      1. Bingo. Well said, sir.

  4. “Jews aren’t important.” No, stupid, it’s the exact opposite; bigots think their targets are *too* important. Otherwise they’d ignore them.

    1. I don’t think it’s the minds of the bigots he’s referring to. I think it’s in the minds of their ostensible allies.

      1. I swear I refreshed the page and didn’t see a reply.

    2. He’s talking about the media not banner-waving and calling attention to antisemitism. He’s not talking about the attackers, who are typically quite deranged and place outsized importance on Jews.

      1. I take them to be the same people. But I see your point.

  5. Yada yada….

  6. “How the ‘No Hate. No Fear.’ marchers are fighting antisemitism”

    Not at all?

    1. This was my thought.

  7. “the murder of four people in a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City, and a man with a machete storming a synagogue during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, 35 miles north of New York City.”

    I’ve noticed something about these recent attacks. In every other anti-semetic attack the media are always certain to include “white supremacist” in describing the incident, but with these it would be a lie if they were to do so.

    So they just neglect to mention the black Hebrew Israelites because they don’t want to talk about it. The Klan is basically dead and the biggest neo Nazi group in the US is the NSM with roughly 400 members. The numbers of those that are alt-right and serious about it are rather small. I think it was the FBI that called the number at about 3K. BHI has roughly 50K.

    Why don’t people talk about them? They have an HQ by where I catch my train and they’re always on the sidewalk out front. They say some of the stupidest and funny shit and they dress like they’re a black professional wrestling tag team group. They’re quite amusing.

  8. You can call me antisemitic if you want, but I don’t see how those yarmulkes could be at all warm.

    The march is fine as a catharsis, I would guess, but gathering for the right in New York City to armed self defense might be helpful.

    1. I doubt they’re very warm. But the Hasids wear those big, furry hats.

  9. “No Hate. No Fear. Solidarity March”

    Who besides me realizes this was a subplot in The Siege?

    1. That movie doesn’t get nearly enough play.
      I always end up watching it when its on

      1. Denzel is the man.

  10. Nice to see the reason bigots are out in full force yet again. Can’t take a simple march in stride but have to imbue it with “socialist” talk and other bs.

  11. “That means not just standing by and making sure our synagogues and our institutions are secure, but going out en masse and showing the world that we are not going to tolerate it.”

    Think it’ll work out better than all the “Marches Against Violence” in Baltimore?

  12. 4th picture – would, would, would.

  13. That’s all well and good. But what is this supposed to accomplish? How does this convince crazy and/or ideologically possessed bigots not to murder people?

    1. Or otherwise stop violence against Jews?

      1. Resist Zeb.

        Always do not let them back you down.

        This is not just about Jews.

        That is the point.

  14. I dunno – may be it might convince some of those people that not everybody is into anti-semitism?

  15. I predict the same success as the “Hate Has No Home Here” yard signs.

  16. “I think there’s a change in thinking, like, ‘there is a danger and we can’t count on anyone to protect us in the moment.’ Yes, police will come at some point. But in the moment, we are targets.”

    Sounds like my kind of people.

  17. “I had been under the view that antisemitism was mostly a thing of the past in the post-Holocaust era,”

    Our entire history has been suffering and oppression. He will do well to learn that we will never be safe. I’m glad that some Jews are taking up arms. Our Israeli counterparts learned that lesson in Europe and never forgot it. People say never again…but does anyone truly understand what is necessary to achieve it?

    Civil society has dulled our threat assessment abilities.

    1. As you probably know there are lots of armed people in Israel but it is a very different gun culture than here. There is no 2a and getting a permit is very controlled. The whole attitude is different. Since large part of the country has been in the military people who have them are more professional about it.

      Americans are always shocked when they see a group of teenage tourists with their pretty, young tour guide with a rifle casually slung over her shoulder. Also conscripts carry their weapons on leave or when they leave the base so they are always walking around. Israelis don’t even notice it.

      In NYC in the orthodox areas they have something called the Shomrim. They are very well organized with marked patrol cars and dispatch centers. They do not carry guns but are something like the Guardian Angels. Chassidic tough guys. Krav Maga and all that. They maintain close relationship with NYPD. Residents often call them first as they get there much faster than police.

      Unfortunately attacks like we have seen which are random and take seconds or minutes are very difficult to prevent no matter what you do.

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