By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
The Jewish Community Center is Scotch Plains was quiet on this holiday, but normally it would be bustling with activities for kids and adults.
Now, parents here are worried because a bomb threat was phoned in last month.
The police chief in Scotch Plains says the JCC had a good protocol for dealing with such a threat.
“It was a female, about 9 o’clock in the morning. I asked why do you want to do it and she says because your people have been hurting our people. Jews killed her loved one, she stated. And they also asked what kind of a bomb is it going to be and the caller stated that it’s going to be a C-4 bomb,” said Chief Ted Conley of the Scotch Plains Police Department.
Chief Conley says says it seems like the threats to Jewish and other religious institutions have picked up since the beginning of this year.
When asked why he thinks they might be happening, Conley said, “I’m not sure. It might be the way things are going in society today. I don’t think it was primarily having to do with our elections, but I think it’s just the way society has taken a turn in the last few years. I don’t have the specifics, but it does seem like people are being more vocal and they want to terrorize people.”
In New Jersey, four JCCs have received bomb threats this year — Scotch Plains, West Orange, Tenafly and Edison.
The director of the homeland security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America says the incidence of threats has picked up in the last six weeks and he’s not sure why.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of rhetoric. I think that there are people who years ago were sitting in basements and printing up leaflets and placing those leaflets in neighborhoods. Where today with the click of a button you can reach tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people,” said Paul Goldenberg, national director for Secure Community Network.
Around the nation 48 JCCs in 26 states have received similar untraceable threats this year and people are wondering if the atmosphere around President Trump has contributed.
Trump was asked by a Jewish reporter last week how is the government planning to take care of the sudden increase in anti-Semitic threats.
“There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts, or threatened to…” the reporter said.
He said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question and it’s not. It’s not a simple question. It’s not a fair question. Sit down, I understand the rest of your question,” President Donald Trump said. “So here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
We managed to speak to one member here who asked not to be indentified. His comment on the uptick in anti-Semitic threats went right to Trump. He said Trump’s response last week to that Jewish reporter was a non-sequitur and fairly perplexing and said it raised more questions than it answered.