Organizations like Jewish Columbus are working to combat the issue with two strategies: security and education.
Each year, Jewish Columbus spends more than $1 million on security; this year, it’s added a new security director. Leaders said it’s social media posts such as the ones made by rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, that cause them to have to take these precautions.
“I think the best thing we can do is have conversations,” said Justin Shaw, the senior director of community relations for Jewish Columbus.
It’s the power of influence that’s brought antisemitism to the spotlight again.
“The recent social media posts by some of these celebrities, it sadly normalizes it,” Shaw said. “It normalizes antisemitism and has really fed into that narrative.””
Jewish Columbus leaders said “influence” has spurred antisemitic incidents in the city. In April, a former security guard for the Torah Academy was charged with making terroristic threats against the school. Last month, antisemitic graffiti was found on Ohio State University’s campus. Now, antisemitic flyers and stickers have been reported around the city.
These are all things Steve Flowers is now on the lookout for.
“When the community gives something to me, intel sharing is very important. I pass it on to them,” said Flowers, who is the community-wide security director for Jewish Columbus.
The former FBI agent acts as a liaison between the organization and state and federal law enforcement.
“It feeds both ways,” Flowers said. “They have information to share with us, we have information to share with them that they might not be getting. It helps them serve a better picture.”
Using FBI principles like intel-driven threats to get to the source before it becomes an emergency.
“Even if a celebrity makes a statement like that and then. through their own coming around, says, ‘OK, I’m not going to say that anymore,’ or ‘I was wrong. I’ve re-thought about this,’ that doesn’t make the narrative go away that they are putting in the public eye,” Flowers said. “And it’s that narrative that becomes dangerous.”
Jewish Columbus leaders said a big part of combating antisemitism is education and they are doing that by speaking in Columbus schools.
They ask anyone who sees an act of antisemitism to report it to Jewish Columbus or the police.