Serene Jones & Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky on Hate Crime

As America tries to make sense of a week marked by hate-fueled violence, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky and theologian Serene Jones join the program to discuss finding strength in America’s core principles.

Read Transcript EXPAND

KALMANOFSKY: Well, I think the Jewish people of the United States have felt extraordinarily comfortable and successful and thriving in this country in many, many ways and I think this really comes, you know, so much out of the blue in the experience of American Jews. What do I attribute the rise to? I`m somewhat at a loss. Certainly, the tenor of American public life in recent years has been to identify people who are perceived as, for whatever reason, outsiders. American Jews have for — I think more than a century, felt very much like insiders, very much at home in the United States. And the reality is that we are seeing, once again, that as has been true in the other countries where we lived over hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years in Europe and the Islamic world, they are those who would like to remind us that we are actually not such as insiders, that we are perceived as outsiders. And there are those, we hope, a very small minority and certainly, the smallest of minority who would take violent expression, but there are plenty of people who look at us and find us just a little bit too different and would like to remind us that, in their view, we don`t belong.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You know — yes, go ahead, Reverend.

SERENE JONES, REVEREND, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY PRESIDENT: There`s been a dramatic — just in the past year-and-a-half, a dramatic increase in the instances of anti-Semitism in the United States. I mean, it`s quite gone up 35 percent in a year-and-a-half period.

AMANPOUR: In a year-and-a-half?

JONES: In a year-and-a-half since 2016. What does that correspond to? Well, it corresponds to a campaign that makes its point about the future of America by tying it to hatred of various groups across the country. And anti-Semitism is in the mix of that hatred.

AMANPOUR: And do you see them? Because you have got sort of a wide eye of various — of these groups who are being targeted. I mean, we have — as we have just discussed at the Tree of Life Synagogue, we had these mail bombings and we`ve had a guy go into a Kroger and kill two African- Americans because he couldn`t get into a church because it was locked. How much has hate crime overall gone up?

JONES: It`s escalated dramatically. I don`t know the specific statistics on all the different groups. But in reality, all of these are interconnected hatreds. I mean, targeting African-Americans, targeting the Jewish community, targeting immigrants, targeting Muslims, targeting women, the list can go on and on. But it`s a part of a general dynamic in which a country, people, begins to define themselves by virtue of what they hate, what kind of group they find a scapegoat. And it is as old as religion is to do that but we`re bigger than that.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary’s President, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky and Richard Clarke, former U.S. Nat’l. Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism about the attack on America’s Jewish community; and Celso Amoirm, former Brazilian Foreign and Defense Minister, about Brazil’s election. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Republican strategist Frank Luntz.