The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


19-year-old American-Israeli Jew arrested in JCC bomb threats


An earlier version of this post misstated the age of the man arrested in the threats to Jewish community centers. This post has been updated.

Israeli authorities report that they have arrested an 19-year-old American Jew who moved to Israel in connection with the series of threats to Jewish community centers in the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that have gotten so much publicity. He is alleged to be responsible for most of the threats. His exact motivation is apparently unknown at this time.

I blame President Trump.

More seriously, some of us argued against jumping to rash conclusions about the origins, motivations and seriousness in terms of American Jewish security of these threats, and we were met with derision, even allegations of being apologists for anti-Semitism. Even if the threats had been the work of an anti-Semitic alt-righter, one nutter with a phone shouldn't cause panic, nor should one nutter's actions be used to extrapolate wild exaggerations about the declining safety of American Jews. But as I noted, various groups and individuals had an incentive to hype the "threat," and, not incidentally, blame it on Trump.

Note also what this does not mean. It does not mean that all reported hate crimes, or all reported anti-Semitic hate crimes, are a hoax. Most of them are not, and the anti-truck bomb barriers in front of my local JCCs and Jewish day schools bear witness to actual threats. It also does not mean, as I've seen way too many commenters on the Web assert, that all anti-Semitism in the United States and/or around the world comes either from the left or from Muslims. That is not just false, but egregiously false, and people on the right have no warrant to avert their eyes from the anti-Semitism that does exist on the right. Obviously, it also doesn't excuse the actual anti-Semitism that has emanated from alt-right circles even if the level and significance of that anti-Semitism have been overblown.

Unfortunately, the points above will be lost on many, and the fight against actual anti-Semitism and other forms of racism will likely have been dealt a blow because self-serving groups such as the Anti-Defamation League chose to hype and politicize the threats without any idea of their actual origin. The ADL's board of directors needs to clean house to regain credibility, starting with anyone who publicly attributed the bomb threats to emboldened white supremacists.