KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Police Department says vandalizing Holocaust center is no hate crime, Israel commits genocide

Jun 23, 2024, 5:55 PM

Seattle Holocaust Center...

Exterior of the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle. (Photo: Jason Rantz, KTTH)

(Photo: Jason Rantz, KTTH)

The Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) anti-bias detective claims vandalism targeting the Holocaust Center for Humanity is not a hate crime. The claim was made in a statement that indicated the SPD believes Israel is committing genocide.

Last week, the words “genocide in Gaza” were written in red marker across an image of Steve Adler on the front window of the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle. Adler was a Kindertransport survivor who dedicated his life to combating antisemitism. The staff was able to remove the vandalism the same day. The message was intended to punish the Holocaust Center for Humanity for the baseless claim that Jewish leaders in Israel are committing a genocide against Palestinians in the war against Hamas, a terrorist organization revered by antisemitic progressive activists.

Despite being targeted because it’s a Jewish organization, the anti-bias detective and spokespeople for SPD told KING 5 that the vandalism wasn’t considered a hate crime.

“SPD investigators learned the message reading, ‘Genocide in Gaza’ was written in pen and was wiped off a front window without causing damage or expense. No explicit threat was made. The motivation for the graffiti was anger over the policy and practice of the Israeli government. We take these incidents seriously and investigate them to the fullest extent. This incident will be documented in the Seattle Police Department’s statistics as a non-criminal bias incident motivated by political ideology,” police said in the statement.

This statement, which SPD had to clarify to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, is beyond offensive, inappropriate and ignorant.

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Why wouldn’t vandalizing a Holocaust Center with claim made by antisemites be considered a hate crime?

The statement claims genocide in Gaza is the policy and practice of the Israeli government. It is not. But that doesn’t stop virulent antisemites from making that claim.

“SPD did not intend to claim the Israeli government is committing genocide in the released statement and, instead, wanted to share that the suspect in the case had this viewpoint,” a spokesperson said in an email to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. “We realize the statement could be misinterpreted and wanted to make this clarification. The department is focused on protecting and serving everyone in our community.”

This message was also sent to KING 5 and any other media outlet that received the previous statement.

The detective and staffer who OK’d the SPD statement are in desperate need of an education. I don’t think the staffer did anything intentionally. But it wouldn’t hurt for either of them to make Jewish friends, preferably those who don’t belong to the extremist group Jewish Voices for Peace (one’s Jewish friends should probably have had a bar or bat mitzvah and support the right of Jews to live on ancestral Jewish land). Maybe they can talk to the average officer I spoke to over the weekend. They were embarrassed by the statement.

Anyone with even a casual understanding of the issue would not have written or greenlit this statement, especially during a global surge in antisemitism. Was it an attempt to get the anti-police progressive activists to reconsider their loathing of SPD? That the statement was distributed to the media, and then the public, suggests an incredible amount of ignorance or a bias that, ironically, allowed an anti-bias detective to pretend this wasn’t a hate crime.

How is this not a hate crime?

Under current hate crime law, targeting the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle because of its connection to Judaism qualifies as a hate crime.

RCW 9A.36.080 declares a person guilty of a hate crime if that person either “causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person” or “threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property.”

In this case, there was physical damage that had to be addressed. But even if the damage was dismissed as non-serious, any reasonable Jew would logically view this as a threat to future harm of the property. There does not need to be an “explicit threat,” as the SPD statement claims.

An included definition of “threat” in the RCW is to “communicate, directly or indirectly, the intent to … cause physical damage immediately or in the future to the property of a person threatened or that of any other person.” Why would an antisemite motivated by hate not target the Holocaust Center for Humanity again?

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Why do antisemitic hate crimes get a pass?

The vandalism didn’t target some random location disconnected from being Jewish. It especially targeted the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle where just a couple blocks away groups of antisemites routinely march in support of Hamas, which protesters’ signs describe as “freedom fighters.”

That the tagging didn’t lead to substantial damage doesn’t mean damage did not occur. It certainly doesn’t mean a message was intended to be sent. And while the claim is that the anti-bias detective investigated it “to the fullest extent,” there doesn’t appear to be a suspect identified. Or does a suspect get a pass because it’s not considered a hate crime — even though the suspect may be behind other acts of vandalism targeting Jews?

In Seattle, antisemitism isn’t taken seriously.

City leadership stays silent as hundreds of marchers chant for the destruction of Israel and call for a “global intifada.” Seattle media members often whitewash the hate and characterize the marches merely as “pro-Palestine” (though ask the same media members to define Palestine and you’ll either stump them or be told “from the river to the sea”). That the original SPD statement didn’t raise alarm bells at KING 5 is notable. Their story of the vandalism was a rare departure from disproportionate coverage amplifying the anti-Israel messages.

But does anyone reasonably believe that the SPD’s anti-bias detective wouldn’t suspect a hate crime if someone used chalk to target a mosque with the words, “return Israeli hostages” or “Hamas is a terrorist group”?  If someone used a pen to tag an LGBT center with language decrying policy allowing transgender girls to compete against biological girls, would it get this response? Would it be written off as a non-biased incident motivated by political ideology? Not a chance.

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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