In the security camera video, a man police say is Jeffrey Fleming looks disturbed about something, waving his arms around, apparently yelling threats and slurs.
Eventually he spits on the menorah in the parking lot of the Chabad of South Broward and then dumps a bucket of human waste on the property.
Hallandale Beach Police arrested Fleming and charged him with stalking and a hate crime for his alleged actions, which took place over a three-day period. In bond court, the prosecutor said Fleming had made threats to kill people at the synagogue.
A rabbi at the Chabad center said Fleming is among many people who have committed antisemitic acts recently, using the conflict between Israel and Hamas as a reason to vent hatred.
“They’re using hatred as an excuse, we don’t know what fuels them, it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be stood for,” said Rabbi Mendy Tennenbaum.
“We’ve seen anti-Semitism from the left, from the right, and everywhere in between,” said Lonny Wilk of the Anti-Defamation League, a nationwide civil rights organization.
The ADL studies hate crimes of all types and says antisemitic incidents in Florida went up by 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. Now the fighting between Israel and Hamas is making it even worse.
Signs and internet memes equating Israel with Nazis have proliferated online and on the streets in demonstrations. The hashtag “HitlerWasRight” has also become much too common on social media. The ADL says criticizing Israeli government policies should never extend to harassing and assaulting Jewish people and institutions.
“That is antisemitism pure and simple, and that needs to be denounced,” Wilk said.
Denounced, Wilk says, with statements like the one issued by the Miami Heat last week, the team saying, “Enough with the hate. Hate speech and violence against Jews and cowardly, antisemitic acts committed against our Jewish friends and neighbors here in South Florida and elsewhere have got to stop. In the strongest terms possible, the Miami Heat stand with the Jewish community and engages in the fight against antisemitism.”
President Joe Biden tweeted Monday, saying, “The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad, it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”
“Because hate against any of us is hate against all of us,” Wilk said.
Rabbi Tennenbaum says the solution is to do the opposite of what Fleming allegedly did.
“Flood the world with love, flood the world with kindness, that’s the only way we as regular citizens can help with this,” Tennenbaum said.