Local and federal law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are stepping up their patrols of Jewish houses of worship, Jewish-owned businesses and Israeli diplomatic buildings as calls for attacks on the Jewish community in the U.S. intensify online.
Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal recently called for Friday to be a global day of "anger" in support of the recent Hamas attack on Israel, which has left over 1,300 Israelis dead. He said demonstrations would send a "message of rage to Zionists and to America."
Historically, such calls for action or for a “day of rage” have produced large demonstrations and unrest in Gaza and the West Bank. But they have not led to large-scale attacks in the U.S. in the past.
Oren Segal, the vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism, said that such calls are common in the Middle East but that now they are becoming more common here.
"Right now, we're concerned about the vulnerability of the Jewish community and the possibility of violence targeting the community," he said. "We’re seeing how white supremacists online are glorifying what happened in Israel. We are also seeing organization on the left at rallies and other events who justify and celebrate that violence, as well."
Multiple law enforcement officials said they are monitoring “a lot of chatter” on social media about retaliatory attacks against Israel’s counterstrikes on Gaza, which have also killed over 1,300.
But none of the online threats are “specific and credible,” according to three officials, a standard that law enforcement applies to intervene to stop potential perpetrators of violence.
However, antisemitic threats specific to the Jewish community in the U.S. have been and continue to be made, multiple senior law enforcement officials say.
Law enforcement agencies in cities like New York and Washington, D.C., as well as federal agencies, are increasing their security postures.
“We are at a heightened posture and talking to our counterparts across the country. This is the highest level of security a lot of cities have had in some time,” a senior law enforcement official said.
The New York Police Department canceled all training for officers Thursday and ordered the entire force to be in uniform and on patrol, two senior law enforcement officials said. The officials said police department will have additional security at large gatherings, cultural sites and houses of worship Friday.
In Los Angeles, all personnel have been to report Friday in uniform, as well. Officials said they will have enough personnel on duty to provide security at any protests or rallies.
In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and others are stepping up their monitoring and adding more officers around the Israeli Embassy and other areas they think might be vulnerable.
The senior law enforcement official said local and federal agencies are viewing Friday as a “bellwether” for the level of antisemitic energy in the U.S., adding that all in law enforcement hope calls for violence will not materialize.
But Friday is not the only focus. The nature of the war and the predictions that it might be “a long war” mean heightened security against attacks in the U.S. may need to continue for some time, the officials said.
Neo-Nazis are contributing to the antisemitic chatter online, sometimes using rhetoric from Hamas.
“We are really interested to see how Friday plays out, because it will tell us a lot about the energy in the U.S. for antisemitic rhetoric and attacks: Who comes out, how many people,” the senior law enforcement official said.