Voice of hate at State

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“Jesus Christ came to save the whole world from the Jews — the founders of the original Anti-Christ religion, they who are the seed of the Serpent, that brood of vipers.” Those are not the words of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, nor of one of his disciples at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. They come from a post on the website of Fritz Berggren, a current U.S. Foreign Service officer, entitled: “Jews are Not God’s Chosen People. Judeo-Christian is Anti-Christ.”

This past July, 70 of Berggren’s coworkers sent a letter to their boss, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling for Berggren’s firing. The coworkers asserted: “Not only is [Berggren’s] propagation of antisemitic ideas highly disturbing and offensive to Jewish and non-Jewish employees alike, but as Jewish employees, we feel his presence at the Department is threatening.”

Blinken appears to be handcuffed by First Amendment protections of speech. But he responded on Aug. 9 that “the Department treats reports of alleged misconduct with the utmost seriousness.” And although he could not comment on Berggren for privacy reasons, he noted that employees engaged in discriminatory behavior can be disciplined “up to and including separation when warranted.”

We will wait to see Berggren’s fate. But his antisemitic messages and their ramifications remain troubling. This is particularly so given the incongruity in an FBI report on hate crimes, released last week, which showed that hate crimes in 2020 were at the highest level in more than a decade, even while showing a drop in anti-Jewish hate crimes. But even with the reported drop in anti-Jewish incidents, when 2020’s religious bias hate crimes were analyzed, nearly 60 percent targeted Jews.

The almost 30 percent drop in anti-Jewish crimes (a total of 676 in 2020) as reported by the FBI is in sharp contrast to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2020 audit on antisemitism, which reported 2,204 hate crimes against Jews — almost three times the number reported by the FBI.

The discrepancy between the two reports has to do with how the FBI compiles its data. The FBI does not include an incident in its religious bias or hate crime accounting unless the underlying act itself is a crime. ADL tabulates the event if it is driven by hate and/or religious bias. In addition, the information on which the FBI tabulation is based seems to be incomplete, as reports confirm that the vast majority of police precincts across the country only submitted limited data on hate crimes or, in some cases, none at all.

ADL has criticized the FBI’s incomplete data, and so do we. Bureaucratic reporting is only as good as its inputs. And if reporting is incomplete or limited, the report itself can be no better.

Thus, while we wish that the FBI was correct that hate crimes against Jews are down, both anecdotal evidence and the real numbers tells us otherwise. And it is the unchecked bile of haters like State’s Berggren who continue to feed the religious bias that drives those numbers.

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