Law Enforcement Action Items

Recommendations for Law Enforcement, as part of AJC's Call to Action Against Antisemitism in America.

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AJC's Call to Action Against Antisemitism - A Society-Wide Nonpartisan Guide for America - Learn More

Protecting Jewish life must be a top priority. In 2023, 25% of American Jews said they were the target of antisemitism—as a physical attack, a remark in person, or vandalism to their property. For American Jews who are affiliated with a Jewish institution, 41% said their institutions were targeted by graffiti, threats, or attacks in the last five years– up from 32% in 2021. Today, almost two-thirds of American Jews (63%) say the status of Jews in the United States is less secure than a year ago. Law enforcement agencies play an imperative role in keeping Jews safe. 

Even though law enforcement is the Jewish community’s first line of defense, AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report found that only 65% of American Jews believed that law enforcement was effective in responding to their security needs, down from 81% in 2019. Law enforcement can and must rebuild trust by squarely facing the menace of antisemitism and cultivating relationships with Jewish communities.

Please note that the suggestions offered below are not exhaustive. There is always more that can be done.

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Understanding Antisemitism

Utilize a standard definition | Law enforcement on all levels—federal to local—would benefit from operating with a universal understanding of what constitutes a hate crime, especially when looking at a multifaceted issue like antisemitism. For example, during the January 2022 hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, the FBI erred saying it “was not related to the Jewish community.” They later corrected the record, reinforcing that many in law enforcement need to deepen awareness of the multiple faces of antisemitism—more than a religious bias, it is also a conspiracy about Jewish power and control. Thankfully, the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, including its illustrative examples, can provide important clarity for law enforcement on all forms of antisemitism. Critically, as antisemitism threatens the well-being of the Jewish community with renewed vigor after the events of October 7, 2023, and as repercussions of the subsequent war between Hamas and Israel reverberate across the globe, the IHRA Working Definition provides clarity on when anti-Zionism morphs into antisemitism. The authoritative definition of antisemitism is a proven, valuable tool for law enforcement entities in the U.S. and abroad.

Ensure appropriate identification of antisemitism | AJC’s Translate Hate is a glossary of antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols that often hide in plain sight. It can help law enforcement and others identify and expose antisemitic tropes, words, and symbols, and can be shared on law enforcement websites to broaden community awareness. Translate Hate can also be a valuable tool in helping law enforcement pinpoint and seek out specific things in an investigation and buttress testimony to successfully prosecute an antisemitic hate crime. Law enforcement and prosecutors may want to maintain a list of qualified experts on antisemitism should testimony be required.

Increase understanding of Judaism and the Jewish people | The Secure Community Network (SCN), the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America, has a useful and digestible “Introduction to Judaism for law enforcement officers and security professionals.” Law enforcement can also partner with SCN and/or American Jewish Committee (AJC) to plan trainings to help members of law enforcement agencies recognize antisemitism, raise awareness, and address it using a variety of tools. To schedule a training with AJC, contact Additionally, the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services provides training on recognizing and reporting hate crimes. 

Recognize the difference between criticism of Israel and antisemitism | As antisemitism threatens the well-being of the Jewish community with renewed vigor after the horrific attacks on October 7, 2023 – and the subsequent war between Hamas and Israel – it is important to know how antisemitism can be cloaked under the guise of criticism of Israel. Numerous examples demonstrate how anti-Israel statements and actions can become antisemitic, with potentially perilous repercussions. Some ideas or statements can be perceived as threatening to the Jewish community. For example: 

  • “From the River to the Sea” is a catch-all phrase that symbolizes Palestinian control over the entirety of Israel’s borders, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This saying is often interpreted as a call for the elimination of the State of Israel. 
  • “Globalize the Intifada” is a phrase used by pro-Palestinian activists that calls for aggressive resistance against Israel and those who support Israel. The most prominent expressions of intifada have been through violent terrorism, so this phrase is often understood by those saying and hearing it as encouraging indiscriminate violence against Israelis, Jews, and institutions supporting Israel.
  • Similarly, “Zionism is Racism” implies that self-determination is a right for all people, except Jews. There is nothing inherent to Zionism that contradicts support for Palestinian self-determination. According to AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report, 80% of Jews say caring about Israel is an important part of how they think about their Jewish identities. Therefore, calling all Zionists racists or saying Zionists deserve to die is dangerous not only to Israelis, but towards the vast majority of American Jews.

Learn from history | During the Holocaust, the police were central figures not just in maintaining public order but also in combating so-called racial enemies of the Nazi state – the epitome of normalization of antisemitism. They played a key role in the concentration, deportation, and murder of Jews in Nazi-controlled Europe. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other Holocaust museums around the country engage law enforcement at the federal, state, and local level to learn about the role of police in Nazi Germany and to reflect on their role in a democratic society today. 

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Responding to Antisemitism

Issue unequivocal condemnations | As with all hate crimes, when an incident occurs, leaders in law enforcement should speak out loudly and clearly using their broad reach, affirming that antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem, but an assault on American values. 

Strong statements of condemnation should come immediately and should:

  • Specifically name and condemn antisemitism when it occurs, even in the larger context of free speech. Unfortunately, it has become all too common to issue universal condemnations of hate that fail to mention the anti-Jewish character of the incident, or list antisemitism among a list of hateful “isms” when it was just the Jewish community targeted. 
  • Offer pathways forward, including resources for victims, that can help the community heal while also proactively addressing antisemitism by generating an improved understanding of Jewish history, identity, and heritage. 
  • Define antisemitism. Dozens of cities and municipalities across the country—as well as corporations, sports leagues, and universities— have embraced the IHRA Working Definition, to help determine when incidents may be deemed antisemitism.

AJC offers a number of online educational resources surrounding what is rendered antisemitism, which can be found here. In addition, our staff experts are available to help suggest relevant language for strong statements. Email for assistance. 

Report hate crimes to the FBI and utilize DOJ grants to strengthen hate crime identification/reporting | Dozens of cities with populations greater than 100,000 reported zero hate crimes or did not report hate crimes to the FBI at all in 2022. Local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily submit hate crimes data to the FBI, per the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act. But inaccurate, incomplete, and simply absent hate crime data has stymied efforts to formulate effective responses. It is impossible to address hate crimes when we do not understand their extent. Over nine in 10 Americans say it is important that law enforcement be required to report hate crimes to a federal government database. Law enforcement agencies across the country should prioritize the reporting of hate crimes via the NIBRS system for the annual report. Local law enforcement can leverage Department of Justice (DOJ) resources such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Program and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE act grants to counter, prosecute, and report hate crimes.

Prosecute consistently and amplify convictions | Antisemitic hate crimes must be prosecuted with greater consistency and to the fullest extent of the law. If they are not, it sends a message to potential perpetrators that it is permissible to commit a hate crime because it will not be taken as seriously. Ensuring broad awareness of convictions of antisemitic hate crimes can be a powerful deterrent.

Increase engagement with the Jewish community | When antisemitism occurs, work directly with the Jewish community. While 65% of American Jews today believe law enforcement is effective in responding to the needs of the Jewish community, that number is a sharp drop from 81% in 2019. Law enforcement agencies, regardless of staffing size, can designate an appropriate senior official to be a central point of contact for local Jewish communities on security needs. Prosecuting offices and courts can also appoint an expert(s) on antisemitism as a point person in prosecuting offices to better understand motivations behind antisemitic crimes. The Jewish community’s Secure Community Network (SCN), which works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, can provide the needed expertise. AJC’s Guides to Countering Antisemitism for rabbis and congregationspublic or private schools, or others, may be useful to use when building collaboration.

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Preventing Antisemitism

Be prepared and watch for patterns | Understanding antisemitism and its patterns can help prevent it. Law enforcement should arrange for training opportunities for officers and recruits about the different ways antisemitism can manifest. By planning for predictable increases in antisemitic incidents—during elections, Jewish holidays, and conflicts within the Middle East—law enforcement can safeguard local Jewish communities and prevent attacks before they occur.

Continue to build trust with the Jewish community | AJC’s regional offices around the U.S. can help facilitate cooperation between local law enforcement and Jewish communities in their jurisdictions to build trust and promote cooperation. Law enforcement can invite Jewish community members, particularly leaders in Jewish institutions and synagogues, to participate in security training to be prepared in case of an emergency. 

Through the Secure Community Network (SCN) and the network of local and regional security programs nationwide, there are Jewish security professionals who law enforcement should know and engage. These security professionals can cement relationships and deepen trust, and serve as the point of contact between local Jewish communities and law enforcement. 

Protect Jewish institutions | Law enforcement plays a crucial role in safeguarding synagogues, Jewish community centers, and nonprofit organizations. The 2018 Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act protects all religiously affiliated property against threats of force. 

In conversations with Jewish communal leaders, law enforcement can help raise awareness of available grants and urge participation. In Fiscal Year 2023, the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides $305 million to train staff and provide physical security enhancements for minority-affiliated institutions and houses of worship. 

Encourage the Jewish community to report hate incidents | Year after year, Jews are the largest target of all religiously motivated hate crimes, despite accounting for just 2.4% of the U.S. population, yet the majority do not report antisemitism. One reason why many Jews do not report is that they believe nothing will change (resignation in fighting antisemitism) and/or it is not serious enough (normalization of antisemitism). Law enforcement should engage with the Jewish community and encourage reporting. Reinforce established protocols for the community to report suspicious activity – to include contacting local law enforcement and/or the relevant suspicious activity reporting authority – as well as the SCN Duty Desk, available 24/7/365 via or by calling 844-SCN-DESK. Submit a tip to the FBI online at or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324). 

Partner with the Community Relations Service | As stated in the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, “America’s Peacemaker,” Community Relations Service (CRS) has numerous local offices which work with communities to resolve conflicts and prevent and respond to alleged hate crimes by providing facilitated dialogue, mediation, training, and consultation to prevent and resolve future conflict. CRS has a specific Strengthening Police and Community Partnership initiative. Relatedly, the DOJ’s Community-Based Approaches to Prevent and Address Hate Crime Program supports community-based organizations implementing comprehensive approaches to promote awareness and preparedness.

Engage leaders in community coalitions | Law enforcement should join in and lift up exemplary cross-community partnerships like AJC’s Muslim Jewish Advisory CouncilLatino Jewish Leadership CouncilBlack/Jewish coalitionChristian-Jewish relationship building, amongst other coalitions in solidarity and action against antisemitism. 

Create prevention networks | Partner with the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) within the Department of Homeland Security. CP3 works with the whole-of-society to build local prevention frameworks. Also consider participating in or implementing a program like Tackle!, a customized curriculum to empower public officials to develop local prevention frameworks to protect their communities from threats motivated by extremism or bigotry. Funded in part by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant, Tackle! is a partnership between Muflehun, a resource center, and AJC

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