Summer 1999: A
Season of Hate
The summer of 1999 witnessed three outbursts of anti-Semitic hate
on a scale not seen in the United States for many years. Early in
the morning of June 18, three Sacramento, CA, synagogues were set
afire, causing an estimated $1 million damage. During the July 4
weekend, before killing himself, hate-group activist Benjamin Smith
went on a racially motivated shooting spree, killing two and seriously
injuring eight other people in Indiana and Illinois, including six
Chicago-area Jews leaving Sabbath evening synagogue services. On
August 10, Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr. walked into a Jewish day care
center in Los Angeles, CA, and opened fire, injuring five people,
and later shot and killed a Filipino-American postal worker. The
"Summer of Hate" posed a sobering challenge to America
and its law enforcement agencies.
Alleged L.A. gunman Buford Furrow and Chicago killer Benjamin Smith
were men who wallowed in neo-Nazism and hate. Furrow told the FBI
that he wanted the shootings at the North Valley Jewish Community
Center where three small boys, a teen-age girl and an adult staff
member were wounded - to be "a wake-up call to America to kill
Jews." In the Midwest, Smith went on a rampage over the July
4 weekend with the clear intention of killing Jews and nonwhites.
And the Sacramento arsonists made their intentions to target the
Jewish community clear by distributing anti-Semitic fliers.
In a joint effort with United Jewish Communities (UJC) following
these horrors, ADL produced a nationwide interactive video conference
on security that offered practical guidance to Jewish and other
organizations and individuals from experts in the field.
Stepping up Security
In the wake of the Furrow shootings, the primary concern in Jewish
communities across the nation became security, and how Jewish leaders
could deal effectively with fear and safety in local synagogues,
community centers and other institutions.
"We need awareness, rather than bunkers or fortresses,"
said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, one of the panelists
on the video security conference held in August in New York. Panelists
Louis Schiliro, Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
for the New York City region, and security consultant and former
New York City Police Commissioner Robert McGuire advised Jewish
institutions to assess their security procedures, to build partnerships
with local law enforcement and to guide their staffs to be more
ADL issued an updated Security for Community Institutions: A
Handbook, first published in 1992. In collaboration with Kroll
O'Gara, the largest security-risk mitigation firm in the world,
ADL prepared and distributed Security Awareness, a new video
for synagogues, community centers and school to enhance their security
In condemning the Los Angeles shootings, Mr. Foxman said, "The
wrong of Buford Furrow's attacks is more than an attack against
the Jewish community and against a kindly postal worker. It is an
attack against every decent citizen of the entire community"
Mr. Foxman was also keynote speaker for a community-wide June rally
where approximately 4,000 people - Jewish and gentile, Black and
white, Hispanic and Asian - packed the Sacramento Convention Center
to hear government, religious and community leaders describe the
attack on the synagogues as an attack on the entire community.
"I was born and baptized a Catholic...," Sacramento Mayor
Joe Serna Jr. told the audience. "However, when I heard about
the firebombings, when I heard about the synagogues being torched
and burned, I am a Jew"
Hailing Sacramento as a model to other communities for how to stamp
out bigotry, Mr. Foxman said, "The community stood up to announce
that the fires of hate that today and yesterday consumed a synagogue,
and in the past consumed churches, consume us all." He told
the audience, "we have come together not only to stop the hate,
not only to say no to hate, to declare that we don't accept it as
hip to hate, but also, as you've declared, to celebrate life, to
celebrate diversity, to celebrate each other with respect and admiration."
Following each of these incidents, ADL provided helpful information
about the hate-group affiliations of the alleged perpetrators of
these hate crimes to local law enforcement officials and political
leadership, as well as to the media and the communities themselves.
ADL is also continuing its vigorous advocacy of hate crimes laws
at the Federal and state levels. The League hailed Senate passage
on the Hate Crime Prevention Act (HCPA), legislation designed to
eliminate gapes in Federal authority to investigate and prosecute
bias-motivated crimes, and submitted testimony at hearings on the
House of Representatives' version of the bill before the House Judiciary
The HCPA is strongly supported by President Clinton, the Department
of Justice, 22 state Attorneys General, and a broad range of national
civil rights groups, state and local government associations, and
law enforcement organizations.
ADL originally drafted model hate crimes legislation in 1981, and
to date more than 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted
laws similar to or based on the ADL "penalty enhancement"
concept. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this
concept in a 1993 decision.
In publishing this report, its 20th annual Audit of Anti-Semitic
Incidents, ADL pledges to maintain its vigorous program of vigilance,
exposure and counteraction of those who spread the poison of hate
and the violence, pain and strife it generates.